What Is Rehabilitative Alimony?

When getting a divorce, both spouses may worry about alimony, also called spousal maintenance or spousal support. One spouse may be concerned about having to pay it, and the other may be concerned about getting enough of it. 

There are several types of financial support one spouse may be ordered to pay another in divorce, though it's never guaranteed. Let’s take a closer look at rehabilitative alimony.

The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide the receiving spouse with temporary financial assistance. They are expected to use the money to become self-sufficient. 

What is rehabilitative alimony?

Rehabilitative alimony is a court-ordered type of spousal support a court may order to help someone become self-sufficient in their post-divorce life. The purpose is to provide support payments to a former spouse who cannot support themselves with support payments. Their financial inability may stem from their commitment to caring for children or supporting the other spouse's career during the marriage.

Rehabilitative alimony is typically awarded for a fixed period of time. During this time, the recipient is expected to obtain education or training that will enable them to support themselves. The amount and duration of rehabilitative alimony is determined by a judge, who accounts for the needs of the recipient as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay.

How is rehabilitative alimony determined?

The determination of whether someone shall receive rehabilitative alimony – and if so, how much – may vary by state. It typically hinges on several factors, such as the length of the marriage, an assessment of the recipient spouse's ability to earn income, the age and health of the parties, and the standard of living established during the marriage. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide temporary financial assistance to the receiving spouse so they eventually become financially independent.

Who might be awarded rehabilitative alimony?

Rehabilitative alimony is typically awarded to a spouse who needs time to acquire education, vocational training, or work experience so they can become self-supporting. Here are some examples of people who might receive rehabilitative alimony:

  • A stay-at-home spouse who has devoted the majority of their time to raising children and has limited work experience, skills, or education may receive this money so they can get the training or education necessary to pursue a career and become self-sufficient.
  • An ex-spouse who put their career on hold to support their spouse's career during the marriage may receive this money to help them become financially independent after the divorce.
  • A spouse who sacrificed their education or career to support their ex-spouse's career or education may receive this money so they can return to school or get other training to jumpstart their career.

Rehabilitative alimony is not guaranteed, and it will not last in perpetuity.

How long does rehabilitative alimony last?

Rehabilitative alimony is temporary alimony. In most cases, these alimony payments last several months to several years, but this length of time varies by divorce case. A judge determines the fixed amount of time alimony shall last based on factors such as the recipient’s earning capacity and how long it’s expected to take for them to get the education or training they need.

It's important to note that if a former spouse fails to fulfill the terms of the rehabilitative plan, the paying spouse can request to have the rehabilitative alimony terminated earlier than planned. Similarly, if the recipient spouse's circumstances change and they become self-sufficient before the end of the fixed period, the payor can request an end to the alimony.

Suggested: What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Spousal Support or Alimony?


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.