Can the Court order a stay at home mom to get a job after a divorce? What is a “Gavron Warning” and what impact can that have upon a spouse who hasn’t worked for several years or who stayed at home to care for the children?
Generally speaking, California holds parents equally responsible for providing for their children after a divorce. What happens when one of the former spouses is fully employed and the other spouse is not employed and could or should earn more? The Court will consider both parties incomes when determining child support and spousal support. Child support is usually based upon California’s child support calculator, but may be modified when the Court sees the need or agrees to do so.
Spousal support is quite different. California’s laws on spousal support are quite extensive, and there is no fixed calculation (as there generally is in child support cases) to determine the amount of spousal support. There are many factors which will impact the amount of spousal support including the length of the marriage, the health and employment viability of each former spouse, as well as the lifestyle or “status quo” of the parties prior to the divorce.
It may surprise some parties when they hear the Court order a stay at home mom to get a job after a divorce. The Gavron Warning is a notice given by the Court to a party who is receiving support. The Court will establish the supported party’s responsibility to make every reasonable effort to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
If a party fails to comply with the orders of the Court or chooses to take a position which pays substantially less than their skill set suggests, the judge may “impute income” to the party who has not met the Court’s order to become more self-sustaining. This could lower the amount of child or spousal support the party would receive going forward.