What is a Rehabilitative Divorce?


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A rehabilitative divorce is one in which rehabilitative alimony is paid to one spouse. This type of alimony can help a spouse regain his or her footing after a divorce if the parties have disparate incomes. This financial support may be ordered even in cases in which other types of alimony may not be awarded.

Types of Alimony

Different states may have a variety of different types of alimony. For example, permanent alimony may provide a spouse with spousal support indefinitely. It may last for a long time or even until death. Separation alimony provides spousal support only during the pendency of the separation or divorce action. Lump-sum alimony results in a one-time payment or exchange of property to offset any future right to spousal support. Reimbursement alimony may be awarded when a spouse has helped pay for college for the other spouse or the acquisition of job skills and the court believes that he or she should be reimbursed for the contribution he or she made. Rehabilitative alimony is financial support that is paid for a specific period of time to help a spouse to become more self-sufficient.

Basics of Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is financial support provided for a finite period of time. It may be ordered for a certain duration, such as one year or three years. Alternatively, it could be ordered in connection to a specific goal or deadline, such as finishing vocational training or finishing a degree program.

Rehabilitative alimony is intended to allow a spouse to become self-sufficient and establish himself or herself financially. The financial support allows the recipient spouse to rehabilitative and become a self-supporting individual so that the need for further alimony is extinguished.

This type of alimony is provided in cases in which one spouse has a lower income or earning capacity than the other spouse. The recipient spouse may receive the alimony up to a determined time period, such as gaining employment, acquiring education or skills or remarrying.

Duration of Marriage Requirement

Some states only permit certain types of alimony if the marriage has lasted a certain duration. For example, courts may only award permanent alimony in long-term marriages, such as those lasting 10 or 20 years. Other types of alimony may only be paid after the marriage has lasted a specified period of time. In many cases, there is not a marriage durational requirement for rehabilitative alimony.

Duration of Rehabilitative Alimony

Some states may allow rehabilitative alimony to only last for a certain amount of time. For example, it may only last up to five years. There may also be other triggering events that lead to the end of rehabilitative alimony, such as the spouse receiving rehabilitative alimony remarries, a spouse dies or the triggering event for which the alimony was awarded occurs.

Modifying Spousal Support

The judge may extend the amount of time for how long spousal support should be paid. Getting an order for spousal support extended often relies on showing a material change in circumstance or compelling circumstances to justify such a change. The judge may extend rehabilitative alimony if an even occurs that prevents the spouse who is receiving alimony from becoming self-supporting by the end of the term. For example, he or she may have suffered medical problems that interfered with acquiring a degree or job skills. The court may require the recipient spouse to show that he or she has attempted to become self-supporting and that the other spouse still has the ability to continue making alimony payments.

A modification may also permit a spouse to change the amount of the order when circumstances justify it. For example, a judge may change the amount of support if one of the spouses loses his or her job or his or her financial circumstances change significantly. The party who is seeking to modify the spousal award amount has the burden of showing that the circumstances justify a change in the order amount.

Contact a Family Law Lawyer for Assistance

If you would like more information about rehabilitative alimony or other types of alimony, contact a family law lawyer for assistance. He or she can explain the requirements to qualify for different types of alimony. By analyzing the specific circumstances of your case, he or she can determine if you may qualify for receiving or may be required to pay rehabilitative alimony or other types of alimony. He or she can also explain your legal rights and duties during the process.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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