Reimbursement Alimony

There are four types of alimony that may be awarded in a divorce.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to what is called reimbursement alimony.  Reimbursement alimony "is intended to compensate a spouse who has made financial sacrifices resulting in a reduced standard of living by enabling the other spouse to forego gainful employment while securing an advanced degree or professional license to enhance the parties' future standard of living."  Cox v. Cox, 335 N.J. Super. 465, 475(App. Div. 2000). 

In the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision of Mahoney v. Mahoney, 91 N.J. 488 (1982), the Court established the concept of reimbursement alimony.  In that case, the husband filed for divorce only two years after receiving his M.B.A. degree.  During the husband's attendance at graduate school, the wife contributed $24,000 to household expenses while the husband contributed nothing.  In addition, a $6,500 payment for educational expenses was made from veterans' benefits and money from the Air Force.  The wife sought reimbursement for her contributions. 

Because the wife financially contributed to her husband's professional education "with the expectation that both parties would enjoy material benefits flowing from the professional license or degree," the Court concluded that it would be "patently unfair that the supporting spouse be denied the mutually anticipated benefit while the supported spouse keeps not only the degree, but also all of the financial and material rewards flowing from it."  The Court reasoned that reimbursement alimony is appropriate where a "young professional who after being supported through graduate school leaves his mate for supposedly greener pastures."  The Court reasoned that "one spouse ought not to receive a divorce complaint when the other receives a diploma."  However, the Court made clear that every spouse who contributes to his or her partner's educational pursuits is not entitled to reimbursement alimony. 

If you need more advice on Reimbursement Alimony, contact one of our highly professional divorce lawyers to schedule an appointment. Call 1.855.WILENTZ.

The family law team at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer serves New Jersey clients in Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Essex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, and Union County, in addition to serving clients in New York City. 

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