The importance of rehabilitative alimony for both parties

Very often, divorcing spouses in Tennessee are not capable of earning the same amount of income. They have different earnings capacities. Sometimes, the inequity is due to mutual choices made during the marriage, but not always.

Often, that difference will cause one spouse to endure a much lower standard of living after the divorce that the other spouse. Alimony, which can take many forms, is a tool to help even the standards of living of the spouses after the divorce. One very important kind of alimony is rehabilitative alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony favored

Tennessee Code section 36-5-121, Decree for support of spouse, provides the opportunity for a spouse in a divorce to receive rehabilitative alimony. It makes clear that a financially disadvantaged spouse should be the payee and receive rehabilitative alimony whenever feasible.

By rehabilitating, the law generally seeks to have the payee spouse gain an earning capacity that will increase his or her post-divorce standard of living. The rehabilitative alimony payments combined with the reasonable efforts by payee spouse should join to meet the goal of increasing earning capacity sufficiently.

Consideration of two different standards of living

One level of the sought-after standard of living for the payee spouse to achieve is the standard enjoyed during the marriage. Another level, when necessary, is to achieve the level of post-divorce standard of living that the payor spouse is expecting to enjoy. This second standard comes into play when the payor spouse also cannot meet his or her prior standard of living, post-divorce.

As shared by the Tennessee Bar Association, it is possible for a court to also order alimony in futuro in addition to rehabilitative alimony. This may occur when rehabilitative alimony is only partially successful. However, when fully rehabilitated, a payee spouse should not receive alimony in futuro.

The duration of the marriage is also a consideration when deciding how long the rehabilitative alimony payments must continue. For instance, a marriage of 14 years may not justify rehabilitative alimony for 15 years duration.

 Intended uses of rehabilitative alimony payments

The actual payments of rehabilitative alimony are with the intention of helping to pay for additional education or job training of the payee spouse. That education is then the foundation for that spouse becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent. As such, successfully implemented rehabilitative alimony can benefit both spouses. The payor spouse will not suffer paying alimony permanently, nor in futuro.