Getting “Back on your Feet” After a Divorce

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Slowly, Florida court ruling as to permanent alimony have changed over time. Today, alimony can still be awarded to men and women permanently, but it also serves to “get people back on their feet” after a divorce. Florida courts will consider a variety of factors when awarding alimony that include: the length of the marriage, the standard of living the spouses enjoyed during the marriage, each spouse’s age, each spouse’s physical and mental health and each spouse’s income or ability to earn an income. However, alimony is basically dependent upon the paying spouse’s ability to pay and the receiving spouse’s need for support.

Florida permits courts to award “rehabilitative alimony.” Rehabilitative alimony was first established in a 1983 Florida divorce action. The court’s opinion stated that rehabilitative alimony could be awarded temporarily in order to allow the financially weaker spouse to “obtain new skills, education and/or other rehabilitation.”

Florida Statute 61.08 allows a court to award rehabilitative alimony 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. In order to receive rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which should be included in any court order. An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan. In addition, it may also be terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances.