Alimony

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Separate Support and Maintenance refers to money paid by one spouse to another after the filing of an action and before a divorce is granted.

Alimony refers to money paid by one spouse to another after a divorce is granted. In South Carolina, either spouse may seek spousal support.

While there is no specific formula for calculating alimony in South Carolina, the Court is required to consider factors set forth in the South Carolina Code of Laws to determine whether alimony is appropriate or well-founded, and, if so, the type, duration and amount that should be awarded. Some factor examples include, but are not limited to: length of marriage, age of the parties, educational background, health condition, past employment, earning potential, standard of living established while married, current incomes, current expenses, assets, custody of children, tax consequences, existence/extent of any support obligation from prior marriage or for any other reason.

Types of Alimony

There are several types of alimony that may be granted by the Court based on factors surrounding the parties and the divorce. South Carolina generally recognizes four types of alimony: permanent periodic, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and lump-sum.
Permanent Periodic Alimony
Permanent periodic alimony is permanent and paid periodically, typically it is paid monthly. Payments continue until either of the spouses die, or the supported spouse remarries or cohabits for a period of 90 days or more. Permanent alimony may be revisited and modified if one spouse shows a “substantial” change in circumstances, for example, if he/she loses his/her job due to injury.

Rehabilitative Alimony
Rehabilitative alimony is set for a period of years and is paid periodically. It is awarded when there is evidence presented and when the court finds that there is likelihood that the supported spouse can become self-supporting within a rehabilitative time frame. Like permanent periodic alimony, rehabilitative alimony is terminable upon the supported spouse’s death, remarriage or cohabitation, yet, it can be extended or modified if unforeseen events hinder the supported spouse’s efforts to become self-supporting.

Reimbursement Alimony
Reimbursement alimony is awarded when the court finds that one spouse is entitled to reimbursement for investments that that spouse made in supporting the other spouse’s education or business. The investment could be a monetary investment or could be based on time and energy invested in caring for a household and children while the supporting spouse was gaining an education or working on developing his/her business. Similar to the permanent periodic and rehabilitative alimony outlined above, reimbursement alimony also terminates with the death of either spouse and remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse.

Lump Sum Alimony
Lump sum alimony is fixed in amount and can be paid at once or in set payments. The total amount of lump sum alimony awarded is fixed and unalterable and often provides certainty to a supported spouse associated with fixed obligation. This type of alimony terminates only if the supported spouse dies. It does not terminate upon remarriage or continuous cohabitation of the supported spouse.

The court may also decide to combine different types of alimony instead of granting just one type.

Alimony can generally be awarded despite the supported spouse’s fault in break up, however, alimony cannot be awarded where the supported spouse has committed adultery prior to the issuance of a final order of separate maintenance and support, or the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement and agreement.

CODE REFERENCE:
South Carolina Code Section §20-3-130(c) outlines in making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;
  • The physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
  • The educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;
  • The employment history and earning potential of each spouse;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;
  • The current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;
  • The marital and non-marital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;
  • Custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;
  • Marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;
  • The tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;
  • The existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party, and;
  • Such other factors the court considers relevant

The firm works to ensure that the relevant factors have been explored and supporting facts clearly presented to the court in order to achieve the best result for our client.

Our attorneys advocate for the well-being and future of our clients and utilize their years of experience and legal expertise to provide ongoing service and aid through this difficult process.

Contact Chandler & Jennings today at our Charleston office at (843) 790-7500 or our Manning office at (803) 500-4686  to speak to our expert divorce lawyers.