Temporary and Rehabilitative Alimony

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony refers to the alimony payments that the court may order one spouse to pay the other during the separation but before the final divorce decree. The divorce decree may order the continuation of the alimony payments – making it a permanent alimony or stop the alimony altogether. It is also referred to as alimony pendente lite. It is an allowance ordered by the court to be paid by one spouse to the other for support during the pendency of the divorce action without regard to who files the divorce petition.

Example: Dave and Stacey have twin boys from their 5 year old marriage. When the twins were born, Dave a high flying investment banker gave up his career to look after the boys and worked as consultant with a nonprofit organization. Stacey continued to work as a highly paid corporate executive and has since gone on to become the vice president of a Fortune 500 company. They live in a state where the average time frame for divorce litigation is 3 years. When they file for divorce, the court will can order Stacey to pay temporary alimony to Dave to enable him to have sufficient funds to live on until the divorce judgment is passed.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony recognizes situations where one spouse stayed home with the children while the other was building a career and developing a high earning potential. Such alimony gives the non-earning or lesser earning spouse a base income so that he or she can build an earning potential.

Rehabilitative alimony is usually awarded for a specific period of time and will terminate once the recipient becomes self sufficient. Generally it will terminate once the recipient is able to get back to work or in case the recipient is unskilled, gains the skill to earn an acceptable income.

Sometimes the divorce judgment may specify the time for which the rehabilitative alimony must be paid. In such cases, the court may periodically review the circumstances of the spouses and modify the order.


Courts have discretion to decide whether or not temporary alimony should be awarded. California Family Code has provisions for payment of temporary alimony but the award must be consistent with the requirements set out in Section 4320 and 4325.

In California, the courts will divide community property before determining alimony. The court will decide which spouse is entitled to alimony and how much. The objective of alimony is to ensure that one spouse does not have to endure significant financial disadvantage due to the divorce. The court will consider the living standards of the spouses, their age, health conditions, their ability to get employed and their ability to pay alimony. In older days, alimony was awarded to women but these days courts do award alimony to men as well. The courts can also order the payment of rehabilitative alimony to enable the financially weaker spouse to become self sufficient. The court will terminate rehabilitative alimony once it determines that the objective of rehabilitative alimony i.e. to make the financially weaker spouse self sufficient has been achieved.

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