Rehabilitative Spousal Support

Rehabilitative support encourages independence. It injects hope, incentive and a constructive goal into the payor/recipient support relationship. When successful, it ends the entanglement of the two ex-spouses because support is no longer needed.

Assume you are a woman who left your outside employment to manage the home and raise the children; now, you are divorcing after a lengthy marriage. You would like to become a computer programmer. However, it’s fifteen years since you worked outside the home. You have the necessary aptitude; jobs in this field are available in your community, paying at least twice what you can earn with your existing skills. You can’t write a computer program, however, and it’ll take four years to complete the necessary training, taking one or two night classes per term, if you work at a job you’re qualified for.

You are motivated, but financially hamstrung. Your husband refuses to pay any more than four hundred dollars per month in spousal support because you are capable of earning six hundred dollars per month. Of course, he may pay that until the end of time because you have custody of your three children and are trapped with underdeveloped skills.

Here’s how rehabilitative support works when the facts are right. Your husband pays you one thousand dollars per month in support, assuming this amount is required to fully sustain you. You participate full time in the one-year program to qualify for the computer programming position. Spousal support automatically drops to two hundred dollars the month following your employment, or two months after completing your one-year program to give you time to find a job, whichever occurs first. Support terminates automatically the month after you earn over one thousand dollars. Jurisdiction is reserved. The entire plan, including reasons and goals, is outlined in a court order. The court has the power to review the progress and make any order at anytime.

You win. You are earning more, in less than two years, than you would receive monthly in support plus earnings from your low-skill job. Your ex-husband also wins. He’s recouped the extra support in little more than two years. From now on, it’s all savings for him.