Reimbursement Alimony Law and Legal Definition

Reimbursement alimony is alimony that reimburses an ex-spouse for economic sacrifices that s/he had made during the marriage, and that enhanced the future earning capacity of the other spouse. For example, an alimony given to a wife who worked full time supporting herself and her husband while he attended a law school and earned a law degree is reimbursement alimony. Reimbursement alimony can be a lump sum covering all financial contributions towards the former spouse's education, household expenses, and educational contributions.

Married couples often help each other with expenses like college tuition or a training program upon the understanding that both spouses will materially benefit in the future from one spouse obtaining that degree. If a spouse divorces the other soon after finishing his/her school or training, then the supporting spouse can recover reimbursement alimony. Even when the supported spouse remarries, reimbursement alimony will not get terminated.

In Hoak v. Hoak, 179 W. Va. 509 (W. Va. 1988), the court observed that “to provide a fair and effective means of compensating a supporting spouse who has suffered a loss or reduction of support, or has incurred a lower standard of living, or has been deprived of a better standard of living in the future, the Court now introduces the concept of reimbursement alimony into divorce proceedings. The concept properly accords with the Court's belief that regardless of the appropriateness of permanent alimony or the presence or absence of marital property to be equitably distributed, there will be circumstances where a supporting spouse should be reimbursed for the financial contributions he or she made to the spouse's successful professional training. Such reimbursement alimony should cover all financial contributions towards the former spouse's education, including household expenses, educational costs, school travel expenses and any other contributions used by the supported spouse in obtaining his or her degree or license”.