Rehabilitative Alimony in Florida

A divorcing spouse can request and receive rehabilitative alimony in Florida under certain circumstances. Florida laws provide for rehabilitative alimony to fund a divorcing spouse’s plan to regain financial independence. Our Orlando, Florida, alimony lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group provide exceptional representation to help those going through a divorce understand and fight for their needs. 

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: April 4, 2024

Rehabilitative alimony is a type of support that Florida courts can award in a divorce proceeding. The goal of rehabilitative alimony in Florida is to provide a divorcing spouse with financial support until they can support themselves.

Deciding whether a party is entitled to any alimony, let alone what kind, can be challenging. However, an experienced alimony lawyer in Orlando, Florida, can help you understand your rights and obligations. If you’re in divorce proceedings, our skilled and compassionate Florida family attorneys from the O’Mara Law Group can help you understand whether rehabilitative alimony is the best option for you. We’ll help you develop the right alimony plan.

What Is Rehabilitative Alimony?

Rehabilitative alimony is a form of spousal support intended to provide a divorcing spouse with financial assistance for a while to help them become financially independent again. This may be to redevelop a previous skill or credential or acquire a new skill or educational qualification.

In some marriages, a spouse may step back from pursuing their career or furthering their education to care for children. When a divorce happens, this spouse may be unable to support themself.

Rehabilitative alimony provides a means through which a divorcing spouse can develop a rehabilitative plan to become self-sufficient again, and can alleviate the financial strain stay-at-home moms may experience in a divorce. This may include returning to school to get a degree or acquiring an additional skillset. 

A divorcing spouse may qualify for rehabilitative alimony even if they have a job as long as their income cannot provide them with the standard of living they had during the marriage. The court can award rehabilitative alimony to help the receiving spouse improve themselves to increase their income. 

Florida courts require a definite rehabilitative plan before awarding rehabilitative alimony. So, if you seek this type of alimony, you must present a specific plan to achieve financial independence. This may include the following :

Your rehabilitative plan needs to provide enough detail and evidence to support the award of rehabilitative alimony. Fortunately, a rehabilitative alimony attorney can help you develop one that meets the court’s requirements.

If you need assistance in Lakeland, Florida, contact a Lakeland alimony attorney for experienced representation.

How Long Does Rehabilitative Alimony Last in Florida?

In determining the duration of rehabilitative alimony, Florida courts will consider the specific needs and circumstances of the receiving spouse. This will include looking at the rehabilitative plan, their educational background, work experience, and how much time they need to achieve financial independence.  

The order awarding rehabilitative alimony will specify the payments’ duration, but any spouse can ask the court for a modification under certain circumstances. 

If the receiving spouse regains financial independence, remarries, or fails to follow the rehabilitative plan, the paying spouse can ask the court to terminate the alimony order.

Also, if the receiving spouse does not regain the ability to self-support by the end of the specified period due to circumstances beyond their control, they can ask the court to extend the order.

Installments or Lump Sum?

The divorcing couple can decide whether payment of the rehabilitative alimony will be in installments or a lump sum payment. The court can also order a specific payment type based on certain circumstances. 

For instance, the court can order a lump sum payment if the paying spouse has the means and the recipient needs a considerable amount to cover education or training costs. The lump sum can also cover any additional expenses the supported spouse will incur before they become financially sufficient.

However, if the court orders periodic payments, the order will indicate the payment cycle—whether monthly, quarterly, or yearly. In determining the amount and cycle, the court will consider the recipient’s needs and the paying spouse’s income.

In appropriate circumstances, the court may also order both lump sum and periodic payments. For instance, if the receiving spouse needs to get a degree, a lump sum payment may cover initial tuition, while recurring payments will support the receiving spouse until they get a job and can pay their bills.

Can I Keep Collecting Rehabilitative Alimony if I Marry?

No. The obligation to pay periodic alimony in Florida automatically ends once the recipient remarries. The paying spouse does not need a court order before they can stop payment. Once the marriage has taken place, they can stop making alimony payments. 

However, if there’s an existing lump sum alimony payment or property transfer you haven’t received, you’re still entitled to receive it even after you remarry. 

Does Cohabitation Affect Alimony Payment?

Yes, cohabitation can affect alimony payment in certain circumstances. On request of a paying spouse, Florida courts can modify or terminate alimony when the receiving spouse begins cohabiting with another person. 

Cohabitation often creates a financially supportive relationship that mimics a marital relationship. The reasoning is that if a marriage can lead to termination or modification of alimony, and cohabitation creates a similar relationship, it may be fair to terminate or modify alimony.

Florida courts consider many factors to determine if the relationship between the supported spouse and the cohabiting partner is enough to modify or terminate the alimony, including the following:

Is it Tax Deductible?

The date you finalized your divorce determines how the Internal Revenue Service treats alimony. If your divorce or separation was finalized before 2019, then alimony payments are generally tax-deductible by the paying spouse but taxable income for the receiving spouse. 

However, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed the tax treatment of alimony payments for divorces finalized after December 2018. Under the new tax law, alimony payments for divorces finalized after 2018 are no longer tax deductible for the paying spouse. Also, the receiving spouse must no longer report it as taxable income.

Understanding Different Types of Alimony

There are different types of alimony in Florida. They are:

What is the difference between rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony?

One significant difference is the objective behind the two types of alimony. Rehabilitative alimony has a clear goal: to help the receiving spouse acquire additional education or training they need to self-support. However, bridge-the-gap alimony is money to help you to get used to living on less income than you were living on when you were married. It is usually awarded when the marital property does not meet a party’s immediate needs.

Also, rehabilitative alimony does not have a specific duration. How long it will last depends on the rehabilitative plan and what the court decides is fair under the circumstances to allow the receiving spouse to achieve financial independence. Conversely, bridge-the-gap alimony cannot exceed two years. 

Modifying Florida Rehabilitative Alimony

Florida courts can modify rehabilitative alimony in appropriate circumstances. You can request for the modification of rehabilitative alimony if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

The change in circumstances must be permanent, material, and involuntary. What amounts to a substantial change in circumstances varies depending on the situation. One appellate court has held that a 38 percent decrease in the receiving spouse’s expenses qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances. Other examples include unemployment, retirement, or a health challenge. 

Other grounds for modification of rehabilitative alimony in Florida are noncompliance with or completion of the rehabilitative plan. For example, if the recipient was supposed to go to college to acquire a degree under the rehabilitative plan but didn’t or dropped out, this constitutes grounds to modify or terminate the alimony. 

A rehabilitative alimony attorney can help you request that the court modify your alimony.

Work With Us to Create a Rehabilitative Alimony Plan in Florida

If you need compassionate and experienced legal representation to get rehabilitative alimony, you can count on our Orlando divorce lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group. We will work with you to create a rehabilitative alimony plan that meets your needs and complies with the court’s requirements. 

Our founding attorney, Mark O’Mara, is a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and board-certified by the Florida Bar in marital and family law. He routinely handles complex divorce cases and is a skilled advocate in and out of the courtroom.

Our rehabilitative alimony lawyers are top-rated attorneys ranking among Super Lawyers and Top 100 Trial Lawyers, with decades of experience helping divorcing spouses get alimony that meets their needs.

We provide client-focused legal representation. We listen to our clients, put their needs first, and develop a strategy that brings the desired results. Our clients strongly recommend us; their testimonials can help you understand the quality representation you will receive. Contact O’Mara Law for experienced representation.

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