The Florida statutes outline the different types of alimony available to a spouse. “In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.08(1)
An award of alimony has to fit one of these categories. A spouse can ask for one, some or all of the four types of delineated Florida alimonies.
Rehabilitative alimony is further described in the Florida statutes as:
“(6)(a) Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either:
1. The redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or
2. The acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.
(b) In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony.
(c) An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with s.61.14 based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.08(6)
Yet through all this language in the statute, the term “rehabilitative” is not defined by the statute. Therefore, we must turn to the various Florida cases that have dealt with the issue of rehabilitative alimony. A few quotes below capture how a Florida court will consider a request for rehabilitative alimony.
“Courts award rehabilitative alimony to prove an opportunity for the former spouse to establish the capacity for self-support commensurate with the standard of living established during the course of the marriage.” Martire v. Martire, 792. So. 2d 631, 632 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001)
Other courts have found that the purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to give the spouse the power to regain the ability to support him or herself “similar to that which previously existed or would have existed except for the marriage of the parties.” Corchado v. Corchado, 648 So. 2d 1261 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995)
Still another court found that, “The principal purpose of awarding rehabilitative alimony is to provide funds to the requesting spouse so he or she can establish the capacity for self-support, either through the redevelopment of previous skills or the provision of training necessary to develop potential supportive skills.” Hill v. Hooten, 776 So. 2d 1004, 1006 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001)
So, it looks like rehabilitative alimony is sufficient alimony so that the spouse can:
- Get the same standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage (this seems like a lot)
- Get the same standard of living he or she would have enjoyed if they had not gotten married (this sounds like it would only apply to someone who suspended their career to raise kids)
- Support themselves (this could be anything depending on what it means to have “the capacity to self-support”)
So, which one is it? The answer is, you figure out which one is highest in your situation and if you’re asking for alimony, you use that standard. Likewise, if you’re being asked for alimony, you calculate which standard is the lowest payment and argue for that standard.
In Naples, Florida, it is expensive to live but the salaries are not that high on average. Rehabilitative alimony could be much challenging in Naples, Florida compared to other locales. Of course, there’s a big difference between getting yourself rehabilitated in Port Royal and getting rehabilitated in Immokalee. The courts will consider the diversity that exists in Collier County when awarding any kind of alimony.
If rehabilitative alimony is awarded a specific rehabilitation plan must be ordered. This plan must be extremely specific. It must lay out goals, the money needed to achieve those goals and the steps the alimony-receiver must take to achieve those goals. Kalmanson v. Kalmanson, 796 So. 2d 1249, 1250 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). This almost always involves education and the payment for education and living expenses during that education.
If something happens to those goals or their achievement, either party can petition the court to cut short or extend the rehabilitative alimony. Rickenbach v. Kosinski, 32 So. 3d 732 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010)
It does not matter how long the marriage was when considering the award of rehabilitative maintenance. What matters is the effect of the marriage on the spouse’s capacity to earn money. Rivers v. Rivers, 785 So. 2d 752.
Rehabilitative alimony, as you can see, is a big, broad concept that the lawyers must narrow down into a very specific and discrete final judgment. Contact my Naples, Florida family law office to see how a lawyer can help or defend you from a claim of rehabilitative alimony.