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12 U.S.F.L. Rev. 493 (1977-1978)
Rehabilitative Spousal Support: In Need of a More Comprehensive Approach to Mitigating Dissolution Trauma

handle is hein.journals/usflr12 and id is 503 raw text is: Rehabilitative Spousal Support:
In Need of a More
Comprehensive Approach to
Mitigating Dissolution Trauma
N  MANY JURISDICTIONS TODAY, a spousal support award
is predicated on the notion that the marital relationship involves
an economic partnership in which the spouses equally share the
burdens and responsibilities of both marriage and dissolution.' To
promote this equality,2 the California Legislature recently amended
Civil Code section 4801 to include eight factors for courts to use in
fashioning spousal support awards.3 Although the amended statute
lists criteria for ascertaining the dependent spouse's ability or po-
tential to become self-supporting,4 neither the statute nor California
case law adequately defines the concept or comprehensively ex-
plains the principles of rehabilitative spousal support. As a result,
it is extremely difficult to determine how California courts might
utilize the factors enumerated in Civil Code section 4801 to assess
an individual's potential or ability to become self-sustaining, partic-
ularly in light of the wide discretion the trial court has in awarding
1. Steinhauer v. Steinhauer, 252 So. 2d 825, 831 (Fla. App. 1971).
2. The law achieves this purpose by encouraging the financial independence of both
Under the New Family Law Act, as between the spouses, the dissolution process
is not unlike the dissolution of a business partnership. An equal distribution of
assets, liabilities, and responsibilities is mandated to the end that upon entry
of the dissolution the parties are to the extent possible placed in a position of
economic parity.
In re Marriage of Mulhern, 29 Cal. App. 3d 988, 995, 106 Cal. Rptr. 78, 83 (1973).
3. CAL. CIv. CODE § 4801 (West Supp. 1977). Section 4801 mandates the court to consider
the following circumstances in fashioning a spousal support award:
(1) The earning capacity and needs of each spouse. (2) The obligations and
assets, including the separate property, of each. (3) The duration of the mar-
riage. (4) The ability of the supported spouse to engage in gainful employment
without interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of
the spouse. (5) The time required for the supported spouse to acquire appropri-
ate education, training, and employment. (6) The age and health of the parties.
(7) The standard of living of the parties. (8) Any other factors which it deems
just and equitable.
4. Id. § 4801(a)(4).

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