How To Mess Up Your Rehabilitative Alimony Award

Rehabilitative alimony is one of the most thoughtful ideas to come into play in divorce cases. The idea is that someone who has the ability to work, but has not been doing so during the marriage, can receive some financial support from the other spouse until that person gets back into the workplace.

The classic example is a nurse who stays home to raise the children during the marriage and, upon divorce, finds that the certification to be a nurse has lapsed. Classes must be taken to get back up to date on changes in the medical field and to qualify for renewing the nurse's license. In that situation, judges often require the other spouse (assuming it is affordable) to pay the living expenses of the nurse and to pay for the schooling over a specific amount of time so that, at the end of the time period, the nurse can be self-supporting or at least need far less in ongoing alimony.

The key here is that the rehabilitative alimony is only for a specific period of time. You can't drag it out forever. In a recent case, one of the Florida courts cut off the support of the spouse receiving the rehabilitative alimony and recited the fact that almost no effort had been made to get back into the workplace. The spouse had only submitted 9 Job applications in 12 months. Does that sound like a good faith effort to get back in the workplace? Of course not.

If you are awarded rehabilitative alimony, you need to understand that you have an obligation to work as hard as you can to get back into the workplace. The judges (who work every day) are not going to have sympathy for you when you ask for an extension of time for that benefit when you haven't put in the effort.