Gavron Warning and How the Court Applies It / by Cassandra Hearn

Spousal support may be awarded in California divorces after the court applies a set of factors[CH1] , including a requesting spouse’s need for the support.  Spousal support does not have to be awarded indefinitely, and a court may put a time limit on it.  The idea behind limited the duration and allowing a spouse to request that spousal support be stopped after the entry of the final order is that the spouse receiving support should be looking for work and a way to raise his or her earning capacity.  To that end, some final divorce orders will include what is called a Gavron warning.

 

The Gavron warning has its origin in a California case called In the Marriage of Gavron.  The rule is now codified in California Family Code 4330(b)[CH2] .  The code states that when a trial court makes a spousal support order, the court may choose to warn the spouse receiving support that he or she should make “reasonable efforts” to assist in providing for his or her own support requirements.  The statute goes on to say that a court may elect not to make the warning at all where the marriage is one of long duration.  A trial court is not required to give the Gavron warning in every case, and may decide that it is not appropriate to include in its order.

 

A Gavron warning does not provide a specific amount of time that the supported spouse has to find a job or to raise his or her earning capacity.  This makes sense, as a spouse who already has a job or has a lot of work experience will almost certainly take less time to assist in supporting him or herself than a spouse who has been a stay at home parent for years.  This is the similar logic behind why a marriage of long duration may not be one in which a Gavron warning is appropriate.  The spouse may have been a stay-at-home spouse or parent for many years.  In cases where the supported spouse may be nearing retirement age, it may make less sense to require him or her to make active efforts to raise income.  Essentially, the Gavron warning is meant to put the spouse on fair notice of his or her obligation to make active and reasonable efforts to become self-supporting.

 

We have experience in helping our clients navigating issues of spousal support, and look forward to talking with you about your case. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation and we can talk about your obligations and responsibilities.