I have been married for 21 years. I worked as a hairdresser for many years while my husband went to school and got his degree in engineering. When he finished school and got a great job with the State, I became a stay at home mom and took care of our kids. I have not worked outside the home in 12 years. I am 42. My kids are teenagers. I am considering divorce, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to make it financially. He says that I should just go back to doing hair, but it isn’t that easy. Will he have to pay alimony? I have been thinking that I want to go back to school- any chance he will have to help me with that?
In Nevada, alimony is a matter of judicial discretion, so there are no guarantees from a statutory standpoint. Under these facts, however, you are likely to be awarded alimony. Generally, the amount of alimony awarded depends on the income disparity post divorce. The duration of alimony is typically dependent upon the earning potential of the alimony recipient post divorce and the length of the marriage. Without knowing more about your husband’s income, it is difficult to advise on the alimony range. The length of the alimony award depends on a variety of factors. In my experience the typical alimony duration for a 21-year marriage is 7-14 years.
With respect to your wish to go back to school to obtain a career of your own with the goal of becoming self-supporting, you may be awarded rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is financial support that is provided for a certain period to allow the receiving spouse time to establish himself or herself financially. In this case, the decree of divorce would provide for rehabilitative alimony for 2-4 years so that you have time to complete a degree and obtain employment. The amount of rehabilitative alimony will depend on the projected education costs.
The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide a dependent spouse with the ability to become self-supporting after divorce. This is common in cases like yours, where you have spent many years raising children but are still young enough to rejoin the workforce. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded for a set time to allow you to regain the necessary skills to rejoin the workforce.
You can receive rehabilitative alimony while also receiving periodic alimony. You should expect, however, that your periodic alimony will be decreased as your post-divorce income increases because of your new opportunities.
Jessica H. Anderson
Divorce Attorney Reno, NV