Rehabilitative Alimony vs Limited Duration Alimony: What’s the Difference?

by Miod and Company

Alimony, also known as spousal support, refers to a designated payment that one spouse must pay to the other while they are going through divorce proceedings or once their divorce has been finalized.

The amount of money that a party is required to pay is determined by the amount the spouse receiving payment needs in order to maintain their standard of living and the amount the other party is financially able to give.

There are a few different types of alimony that parties may pay after their divorce is finalized: permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, pendente lite alimony, and reimbursement alimony.

Oftentimes, it is easy for people to confuse rehabilitative alimony and limited duration alimony, because these payments are only required for a specific period of time.

Here are the key differences between these two types of alimony:

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is a spousal payment that must be paid for a specific duration of time, after which the spouse receiving alimony can be reasonably expected to no longer need this support. 

A judge might require this type of alimony for a couple of reasons:

  • The party receiving alimony already has the job experience or education necessary to maintain their current standard of living after the duration of the rehabilitative period and needs time to find a job
  • The party receiving alimony plans to become self-supporting by the end of the rehabilitative period and needs time to complete training or an education program in order to find a job

For example, a spouse with a college education who becomes a stay-at-home parent after being a part of the workforce for several years may receive rehabilitative alimony for a few months while hunting for jobs.

When the judge awards this rehabilitative alimony, parties must provide a plan detailing the rehabilitative time frame and the steps that the receiving party will take in order to return to the workforce or become self-supporting during this time period.

Limited duration alimony

Like rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony is only required for a specific period of time. However, this type of alimony depends less on the receiving party to complete certain steps to re-enter the workforce and more on the conditions surrounding the marriage and the receiving party’s standard of living.

Judges typically award limited duration alimony when the parties involved were only married for a short period of time, so it is unwarranted for one spouse to pay alimony permanently.

This type of alimony typically must be paid for a duration established by a judge until the person receiving alimony remarries. If the receiving party significantly improves their earning capacity to the point where it would not be appropriate for them to receive alimony, the original payment amount for this arrangement might be modified by a judge.

Regardless of whether a party receives rehabilitative alimony or limited duration alimony, there is always a set period of time during which the receiving party has time to become self-sufficient.

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