Need "is not based on the minimum life necessities of the spouse, but rather is measured by 'the amount necessary to support a spouse in a manner consistent with the marital life-style.'" Reed quoting Zaleski v. ZaleskiFor general term alimony, the most typically awarded type of alimony, the statute also limits the amount of alimony to "generally not exceed the recipient's need or 30 to 35 per cent of the difference between the parties' gross incomes established at the time of the order being issued."(emphasis added) In Reed, the Appeals Court points out the importance of that "or".
The trial Judge, in Reed, used the differential formula (though apparently did the math wrong), and the husband argued that the wife's "need" was actually lower. The Appeals Court did not agree, and also indicated that "the statute plainly allows a judge to base the alimony award on need OR the income differential formula." (four types of emphasis added)