Florida law provides for several different types of alimony at the end of a divorce case. Each form of alimony is distinct in its purpose, its duration as well as in the method for calculating the amount of the award:
- Temporary alimony is meant to maintain the status quo while the divorce case is pending.
- Permanent alimony is meant to provide a Former Spouse with the ability to maintain his or her standard of living on a long-term basis;
- Bridge-the Gap alimony is meant to provide the Former Spouse short-term assistance with the transition from being married to being single;
- Durational alimony is meant to provide stability for a number of years and give a spouse time to get his or her financial affairs in order over a period of several years;
- Rehabilitative alimony is meant to provide a Former Spouse with the tools to become self-sufficient such that they no longer have a need for alimony or support over the long-term.
Rehabilitative alimony is a very useful tool which will likely gain prominence as the next generation marries and (unfortunately in some cases) divorces. First, the State of Florida (both in legislation and in appellate opinions) has been trending toward narrowing the circumstances in which long-term or permanent alimony is awarded. Second, as dual earning couples become the rule rather than the exception, parties will have greater parity in their financial resources and earning capacities on a post divorce basis. However, the practical realities of life often require that one party put their career on hold (in whole or in part) to raise the children and maintain the home life. This doesn’t mean that the party will quit his or her job or exit the workforce altogether but it often means passing up opportunities for additional training, education and advancement in favor of preserving a great family life.
Where this occurs (and it will likely increase over time), rehabilitative alimony is a great option which allows parties to essentially catch-up with their careers by obtaining additional certifications or degrees that will help to accelerate their earnings trajectory. At the same time, this will reduce the need for alimony over the long-term (including permanent alimony and durational alimony) because it will help the payee become self-sustaining. In the end, it can be a great result for both parties.
In order to award rehabilitative alimony, the Court must set forth a practical, and realistic, plan for the payee spouse to increase their earning potential. Once this plan is created, the Court can award tuition and related expenses as well as a sufficient amount of alimony to supplement (or replace) that party’s income while they go through the process.
Litigating over rehabilitative alimony can present factual and legal complexities for both the payor and the payee because the parties will need to present the court with a fair and reasonable plan of action, which may necessitate employment experts. The lawyers of the Ferraro Law Group have been assisting clients in Stuart, Florida and throughout the Treasure Coast with their alimony and divorce needs for more than thirty years.