How does ability to obtain employment factor into the court’s alimony award?

If a spouse is unemployed and if it is reasonable that the unemployed receiving party will become self-supportive in the future, the court may rule in favor of rehabilitative alimony rather than permanent. In this case, the receiving party’s current employment potential is a major factor in determining the amount and duration of the rehabilitative or permanent alimony award. The court must consider the amount of time and/or additional education and training needed for the receiving spouse to become self-supportive. After the rehabilitative period has concluded, if the receiving spouse is still not able to support his/herself, the court may rule for an extension of rehabilitative alimony or for a permanent alimony award. There are cases where a court may rule in favor of permanent alimony, rather than rehabilitative, even if there is a high possibility that the receiving party may become self-supportive. In the case of a minor child, the court may determine it is in the best interest of the child for the receiving spouse to maintain the duties of a “full-time parent,” and therefore not become employed. In this instance, permanent alimony would be appropriate.

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