Reimbursement alimony, which can be paid over a period of time, is set up to reimburse, as it name states, one spouse for expenses occurred by the other. For example, if one spouse helped put the other through college or some other type of education, a training program, or a professional licensing program, and the couple divorces soon after its completion, the spouse who supported the family during that period may be able to obtain reimbursement alimony as a payback for their money spent.
The classic example of this is the nurse who marries a medical student and then supports the family while the medical student finishes school. If the couple divorces soon after the medical student completed training, the nurse would probably be entitled to reimbursement alimony, as it was the nurse’s money that paid for the doctor’s training. The alimony is not necessarily being given because the nurse needs funds for support to get by (since the nurse is already self-supporting). Instead, it is given as a fair payback for the support of a spouse through medical school.
On the other hand, the court could decide to give the supporting spouse a considerable majority of marital property as compensation for support. This occurs less often, as is most cases when one spouse has just completed a training program, the couple has not accumulated a large amount of marital assets. Reimbursement alimony is consequently given as the alternative.