When spouses divorce, they are entitled to enjoy the same standard of living as before their separation, according to Florida’s statutes and case law. But couples don’t always disembark from a dissolved marriage with similar incomes, especially if one gave up working during the marriage. Rehabilitative alimony can assist by providing resources for education or job training, empowering dependent spouses to become self-supporting.
If your divorce case involves rehabilitative alimony, The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates can assist you. Our Gainesville divorce lawyers are well-versed in Florida’s alimony laws. From payment negotiations to rehabilitation plans, we’ll handle the details of the case so you’re free to focus on your life.
What Is Rehabilitative Alimony?
As financial support paid by one ex-spouse to another, alimony redistributes income equitably between two parties after a divorce. Alimony can be temporary or permanent and made in several payments or one lump sum. Rehabilitative alimony is a temporary alimony made as payments for a specific purpose. This type of alimony helps a dependent spouse reestablish capacity for self-support following the separation. Through rehabilitative alimony, the person receives money for the redevelopment of job skills, including education, professional training, and work experience.
Who Gets Rehabilitative Alimony?
Family law courts award rehabilitative alimony on a case-by-case basis. First, the court looks into whether either party deserves alimony. Then, it determines which party is able to pay alimony. If those criteria are met, the court then decides the most appropriate type of alimony for the situation. If a spouse’s employment prospects were stifled during a marriage, and his or her standard of living is expected to decrease after the divorce, he or she may be eligible for rehabilitative alimony.
Under Florida law, a spouse may receive rehabilitative alimony even if he or she is employed. According to court precedent, just because a person is employed and/or has an income, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is self-supporting. This is especially true of a spouse whose standard of living will plummet due to a divorce. Therefore, an employed spouse can still receive rehabilitative alimony.
How Is Rehabilitative Alimony Calculated In Florida Courts?
Courts look at many factors when contemplating whether to award rehabilitative alimony, and sufficient and compelling evidence is required for it to be granted. Florida Statute 61.08 lists the economic and social factors a court may consider when analyzing a marriage. These include the standard of living for both spouses; the duration of the union; the physical and emotional health of each party; the marital and non-marital assets and liabilities contributed by each spouse; their financial contributions during the marriage, including sources of income; and, when applicable, the education or job training a dependent spouse would need to become self-supporting. These factors influence when and how much rehabilitative alimony is awarded to a spouse. But they aren’t the only factors a court may consider.
Hill V. Hooten & Rehabilitative Alimony Law Precedent
In the landmark case HILL v. HOOTEN (2001), the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District ruled that, in addition to the economic factors outlined, the courts “may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.” In other words, a family court has great discretion to rule on rehabilitative alimony cases as long as its determination remains in keeping with the spirit of the law.
HILL v. HOOTEN set precedents that shaped the rehabilitative alimony laws in Florida. In the case, a husband and wife divorced after 17 years. Both had been employed in the medical field. During the marriage, the husband advanced his career, as reflected by his rising earnings. The wife’s income, on the other hand, had declined as she gradually worked less over the years. By the conclusion of the marriage, the couple had an income disparity of nearly 800 percent; the wife earned less than $10,000 annually, a figure well below the federal poverty line.
The family court in HILL v. HOOTEN awarded rehabilitative alimony to the wife. Her ex-husband was ordered to pay $500 a month for 36 months, income she would use to reestablish her career from earlier in the marriage. However, the district court later voided this ruling on appeal. It determined the family court hadn’t sufficiently proved the need for rehabilitative alimony in the case. The precedent was set.
Consequently, to award rehabilitative alimony, a Florida court must have a rehabilitative plan. This document outlines the nature and duration of education or training a dependent spouse requires “to develop potential supportive skills” and find “appropriate employment.” Then this information is used to calculate the amount of rehabilitative alimony a spouse shall receive.
Do I Need An Alimony Attorney?
During any divorce proceeding where rehabilitative alimony is under consideration, there are a host of complexities and variables at play. A family law attorney at your side guiding you through every step.
At The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, you’ll be represented by divorce attorneys who understand the ins-and-outs of Florida’s alimony laws. Whether you’re slated to pay rehabilitative alimony, or you’re trying to receive it, our lawyers in Gainesville will work to get you the most fair and equitable agreement. The sooner you involve us, the greater the impact we can have — call today for a consultation.