On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 182 N.J. Super. 616 (1982).
For affirmance and modification -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Pashman, Clifford, Schreiber, Handler, Pollock and O'Hern. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Pashman, J.
This is a companion case to Mahoney v. Mahoney, 91 N.J. 488, decided today. For the reasons expressed in that opinion, we modify the judgment of the Appellate Division and remand the case to the trial court to consider a limited award of either rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony.
The parties were married in New York in 1973. At that time plaintiff, Anita Hill, was a social worker with other part-time jobs; defendant, Robert Hill, was selling insurance. The defendant
supported the plaintiff while she attended medical school in Albany, New York, for one year, from 1974 to 1975.
In 1975 Anita and Robert Hill moved to New Jersey. From 1975 until the parties separated in 1978, the defendant attended dental school in this State. During the defendant's first year of dental school, the plaintiff did not work; the parties were supported by a combination of educational grants, loans and insurance that accrued to the plaintiff upon her mother's death. In May 1976 the plaintiff began to work again as an assistant scientist and a substitute teacher. Between that time and October 1978, she earned about $36,000, which was used for household expenses. The plaintiff testified that her husband contributed about $1,000 to the household during that time.
By the time the parties separated, the defendant had accumulated about $30,000 in educational loans. He completed dental school in 1979. At the time of trial, the defendant was earning $15,500 as a resident in oral surgery and repaying those loans.
In the summer of 1979 Anita Hill moved to Boston and enrolled in the Boston University Dental School, where she was a second year student at the time of trial. Her education required her to borrow substantial amounts of money.
Anita Hill filed a complaint for divorce in July 1979. Trial was held in October 1980. The trial judge granted a divorce on the grounds of 18 months continuous separation and ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiff $2,050 to satisfy outstanding debts, a decision that the defendant did not appeal. The court did not award alimony.
The portion of the trial court order from which the defendant appealed involved the plaintiff's claim for reimbursement for contributions to the household while her husband was attending dental school. The court found that the plaintiff had contributed $28,000 to the household from the time the defendant entered dental school until they separated. The court, without explaining how it reached this $28,000 figure, ...