WHAT IS REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY?

Rehabilitative alimony refers to alimony given to a spouse so that the spouse may “rehabilitate” herself or himself in the sense of acquiring greater earning power or training to become self-supporting. Rehabilitative alimony might also be given to a parent who stays home with young children until she is considered appropriate for the parent to work outside the home. 

There is no uniform time at which parents are expected to work outside the home, but when the youngest child is in school full-time, it is common for the parent to resume work. (Of course, in many families, intact and divorced, the parents work outside the home when the children are preschoolers. And in some families, one parent stays home as long as the children live at home.) 

Rehabilitative alimony is usually for a fixed period of time. The court (or the parties by agreement) may include a provision that the alimony is subject to review at the end of that period. If alimony is subject to review, it means the court may look at the facts of a case later to determine whether alimony should be continued, discontinued, or changed in amount. 

If the order or agreement regarding alimony does not contain a provision for review, it might still be reviewable, or it might not be reviewable, depending on the state’s law. If the recipient of alimony wants the alimony to be reviewable (with the possibility of continuation), it is best to include language to that effect. If the alimony’s payor does not want alimony to be continued beyond a certain time, the payor should seek to have the language to that effect in the agreement or order. A court is likely to approve cessation of alimony on a certain date if that is what the agreement or order calls for. Still, the court usually has the power to continue alimony in certain circumstances, such as the recipient’s chronic illness. 

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