Important and Recent Cases Dealing With Spousal Support Reduction & Termination

In re Marriage of Gavron (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 705, 250 Cal.Rptr. 148, provision is as follows:

“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 [Fam. Code §4320], unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in [Fam. Code §4336], the court decides this warning is inadvisable.’” (Fam. Code §4330 (b).)

Spousal support termination date properly set 3 years after original order after lengthy marriage due to changed circumstances. In re Marriage of Shaughnessy (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1225, 43 Cal.Rptr.3d 642

The standard rule that modifications in support orders may only be granted if there has been a material change of circumstances since the last order was not designed to circumvent the goal that supported spouses become self-supporting within a reasonable period of timeIn this case the initial spousal support award was premised, in part, on an expectation that Wife would obtain retraining in order to increase her income and become self-supporting. However, by three years later Wife had done little, if anything, to obtain retraining to increase her income, and had not otherwise been diligent in attempting to become self-supporting. W’s “failure to diligently pursue retraining in order to attempt to become self-supporting constituted a change in circumstances justifying a modification of the spousal support order.”

Wife’s failure to use five years since dissolution to become employed was grounds for refusing to increase support after it stepped down to a reservation.  In re Marriage of Sheridan (1983) 140 Cal.App.3d 742, 189 Cal.Rptr. 622.  This case was the harbinger  of the change which we are seeing in the attitude of appellate courts towards supported spouses who refuse to act in good faith in seeking employment.

In re Marriage of Terry (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 921, Wife can be forced to change her investment strategy to provide greater income for her to be self-supporting.

In re Marriage of Berland (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 1257, 264 Cal.Rptr. 210, Wife’s poor judgment in failing to diligently pursue remunerative employment justified reduced support award for short period followed by reservation.

In re Marriage of McElwee (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 902, 243 Cal.Rptr. 179, Failure of supported spouse to invest prudently own substantial assets may be grounds for termination of spousal support.

In re Marriage of Hoffmeister [Hoffmeister II (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 351, 236 Cal.Rptr. 543, Standard of living of parties during marriage controls, not standard of living of paying spouse at time of modification proceeding].

Webb v. Webb (1970) 12 Cal.App.3d 259, 90 Cal.Rptr. 565, card ß{SpSu 026.01}. Court reversed for failure to terminate or decrease alimony when need no longer existed.

In re Marriage of Schaffer [Schaffer II] (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 801, 81 Cal.Rptr.2d 797.  No abuse of discretion for judge to consider W’s actions and long term history of spousal support extensions in reducing spousal support to zero at modification hearing.

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