When it’s difficult to look into the future, and it commonly is, and see where a recipient spouse might be given two or five, or seven years to rehabilitate themselves, it might be best to enter into a more short-term agreement or advocate to a court in the absence of an agreement, that there be a more short-term support order that can be revisited in a number of years. It’s not uncommon for a court to award support to a financial dependent spouse that includes in the support amount, a budget for that spouse to get technical training or to go back and receive broader academic training in an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree.
And oftentimes, the courts will set a review date by which reasonable efforts are expected by the recipient spouse to result in reaching that retraining or educational goal. The court will then look at where that spouse is in mitigating reducing their dependence on support from the other spouse, and adjusting that amount either because the recipient spouse has successfully acquitted his her or her duties to retrain, to re-educate, and to become more financially independent.
Or, on the darker end of the spectrum, the courts can reduce support because a spouse has been given an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and has not, in good faith, embraced that opportunity. So typically, to avoid trying to project too far out into the future, a support award or support award on agreement can be made for a limited time and then a revisit, a wait and see type of approach can revisit that support arrangement and tailor it however it needs to be tailored a few years down the road.
Leslie Shaw practices family law in both California and Nevada, and has been involved in close to 1,000 family law matters largely involving litigation throughout his 40 year career. He is also a Certified Family Law Attorney, a status granted by the California Board of Legal Specialization.