A Divorce Court Should Not Terminate Jurisdiction Over Spousal Support Unless the Record Clearly Indicates the Supported Spouse Will be Self-Sufficient by that Date

After the dissolution of a 16-year marriage, husband was ordered to pay wife a spousal support award of $542 per month. At the time of the hearing husband had been unemployed for two months and husband had a total income of $575 per month. Husband had been previously making $2,297 per month. Wife had been unemployed during the marriage and the divorce court determined her prospects of finding gainful employment that would earn her more than a couple thousand per year were small. The divorce court modified a spousal support order downward to $200 per month. Both divorce attorney’s appealed the divorce court’s order.

The Court explained that present and future limitations of spousal support must be reasonable. Further, “a trial court should not terminated jurisdiction to extend a future support order after a lengthy marriage, unless the record clearly indicates that the supported spouse will be able to adequately meet his or her financial needs at the time selected for termination of jurisdiction.” The Court disagreed with husband’s divorce attorney and determined that the divorce court did not abuse its discretion, because it had postponed to a future date the determination of whether jurisdiction would be terminated. Thus, the Court determined wife’s divorce lawyer had no merit in appealing the divorce court’s decision to terminate spousal support on a certain date unless a showing of “good cause” could be made to extend the support award. Additionally, the Court determined there was no merit to husband’s divorce attorney’s claim, appealing the reduced award to $200 per month. The Court further explained that there was a presumption that the divorce court would review the circumstances upon the termination date of the spousal support. Thus, the Court upheld the divorce court’s decision.

In re Marriage of Richmond (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 352