Reimbursement alimony, as the name implies, is designed to reimburse one spouse for expenses occurred by the other. If, for example, one spouse helped put the other spouse through college or a training program and the couple divorces soon after the training program is complete, the spouse who supported the family during that period might be able to obtain reimbursement alimony as a payback for the resources spent.
A classic example is the nurse who marries a medical student and supports the family while the medical student finishes medical school (and perhaps a residency program). If the couple divorces soon after the medical student completed training, the nurse probably would be entitled to reimbursement alimony to compensate for the resources used during the training program. In this case, reimbursement alimony is not necessarily being given because the nurse needs funds for day-to-day support (since the nurse would seem to be self-supporting). Instead, the alimony is given as an equitable payback for supporting the spouse through medical school.
Alternatively, a court could choose to give the supporting spouse a substantial majority of marital property in compensation. But in many cases in which one spouse has just completed a training program, the couple has not accumulated a large amount of marital assets. So, reimbursement alimony is given as an alternative. Reimbursement alimony can be paid over a period of time.