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What does rehabilitative alimony mean?

As its name may suggest, rehabilitative alimony is when one spouse makes payments to the other in order to help the receiving spouse get back on his or her feet after divorce. Its main purpose is to help the receiving spouse become employable and self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a predetermined amount of time after which the payments will cease.

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded without regard to how long the marriage lasted, but a judge will look at the length of the marriage when making a determination. Five years is the longest period a spouse can receive this kind of spousal support. In many cases a judge may award rehabilitative alimony when one spouse has been absent from the Massachusetts workforce for a long time. Other times, it may be awarded if a spouse is overcoming an injury or illness and needs financial assistance while recovering.

The amount of rehabilitative alimony may undergo changes if the paying spouse loses a job or if one spouse experiences a significant change in income. If certain circumstances mandate the need, a judge may consider extending rehabilitative alimony. These circumstances include:

-- An unexpected event that delays the receiving spouse's self-sufficiency

-- The receiving spouse has made every effort to become self-sufficient but is still experiencing hardships

-- And, the paying spouse will not suffer financial hardships from an alimony extension

In many situations, rehabilitative alimony is good for both spouses. However, any time spousal support is an issue it is a good idea for both spouses to seek individual legal support to ensure their financial needs are met.

Source: MassLegalHelp.com, "How does “rehabilitative” alimony work?," Jeffrey L. Wolf, accessed May 13, 2016

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