Are You Entitled to Rehabilitative Alimony? Getting Back on Your Feet After Divorce

When Florida residents think about alimony, the most common type that comes to mind is what is termed “permanent alimony.” Permanent alimony, however, is fundamentally different and does not serve the same purpose as “rehabilitative alimony,” which allows a spouse to regain financial independence after divorce. In fact, the court may even grant a combination of both types

Consider this: ten years ago, you graduated from University of Miami, top of your class, and you were well on your way to earning your degree to become a nurse anesthetist. But, before you could finish, you got married and made the decision to put your education and career path on hold to raise a family. You wouldn’t change that decision for the world, but now, it’s ten years later, your marriage has ended, and you have no way to support yourself, having relied on your spouse for generating all of the family’s income. Ignoring your “limitations,” you take control by going back to finish school and enter the work force. In Florida, the court may grant rehabilitative alimony for a limited period of time to assist you in regaining yours status as a self-supporter.

Rehabilitative alimony forces one spouse to pay for the other to obtain a skill, education, or rehabilitation so that he or she can eventually support his or her self – an ability they lost or never had before or during the marriage. If you seek rehabilitative alimony, it is important that during the dissolution proceeding you present detailed evidence demonstrating the cost of completing your education, your prospects of future employment, and the amount of time you will need to obtain the income you need. This “plan,” must be credible and adequate, so it is important to make it as accurate as possible.

In Florida, there is an important limitation on rehabilitative alimony – it does not act as a substitute for unemployment compensation or retirement benefits, but lasts only until the receiving spouse can be sufficiently trained for employment and no longer relies on the other spouse’s funds for support. Take the opening hypothetical, for example. You have presented to the court, during your divorce proceeding, a plan that includes going back to college for two years to earn your nursing degree including an additional year to find the right job that will be well-compensated. Taken together, the court may award rehabilitative alimony for up to 3 years from your ex-spouse.

To discuss the need for rehabilitative alimony during your dissolution proceeding, or to create an adequate rehabilitative alimony plan to present to the court, please consult an attorney.

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