What Is a ''Gavron Warning'' ?

In In re Marriage of Gavron (1988) 203 Cal. App. 3d 705, a California case, 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. Nonetheless, "inherent in the concept that the supported spouse's failure to at least make good-faith efforts to become self-sufficient can constitute a change in circumstances which could warrant a modification in spousal support is the premise that the supported spouse 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. Thus, what has become known as a "Gavron warning" is a fair warning to the supported spouse he or she is expected to become self-supporting.