Gavron Warning Law and Legal Definition

The Gavron warning is a fair warning to the supported spouse that s/he is expected to become self-supporting. This is frequently issued to the supported spouse at the time the permanent spousal support order is made. The warning essentially compels the supported spouse to make all reasonable efforts to become self-supporting, within a reasonable time.

The name comes from the case In re Marriage of Gavron, 203 Cal. App. 3d 705, 711-712 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1988), wherein the court set this standard. In Gavron the parties separated after a 25-year marriage. The judgment of dissolution ordered husband to pay support to wife, who was unemployed at the time of the dissolution and had limited job skills. Six years after entry of the judgment husband sought a modification of the support order. The trial court granted the requested modification, holding wife's failure to become employed after so many years constituted a change in circumstance which shifted the burden to her to demonstrate her continued need for support. Reversing the trial court's order, the Court of Appeal explained a supported spouse's failure to become self-supporting could, in an appropriate case, warrant modification of a support order. However, the supported spouse should be made aware of the obligation to become self-supporting.The court held in the absence of a “reasonable advance warning that after an appropriate period of time the supported spouse was expected to become self-sufficient or face onerous legal and financial consequences” failure of the supported spouse to become self-supporting cannot be a “changed circumstance” supporting a modification.

In 1996, the Legislature codified the Gavron warning in California Family Code section 4330, subdivision (b) first making it mandatory then later discretionary. The statute now reads “When making an order for spousal support, the court may advise the recipient of support that he or she should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court pursuant to [Family Code] section 4320, unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in [Family Code] section 4336, the court decides this warning is inadvisable.” [ In re Marriage of Schmir, 134 Cal. App. 4th 43, 55 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005)]