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Alimony

Alimony is financial support paid to a former spouse after the marriage has been dissolved.  Spousal support is financial support paid during separation.  Alimony may be paid periodically or in a lump sum.  There are many factors that the Court considers when issuing an award of alimony.  Unlike child support, there is no formula for alimony in South Carolina.  Whether you are facing the responsibility of paying alimony or seeking alimony, it is important to have a qualified Charleston family law attorney who can evaluate your financial and marital situation and advise you about alimony.  The attorneys at The Bleecker Law Firm understand South Carolina alimony laws and have experience fighting for their clients whether they are seeking an alimony award, opposing alimony, or modifying an existing order.

The Law

There are four types of alimony that may be awarded in South Carolina: permanent periodic alimony, rehabilitative alimony, lump sum alimony, and reimbursement alimony.

  • Periodic alimony terminates on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or upon the death of either spouse. It is terminable and modifiable based upon changed circumstances occurring in the future. This form of support may be ordered under circumstances when the court finds it appropriate to order the payment of alimony on an ongoing basis or where it is desirable to require ongoing support of a spouse which can be reviewed and revised as circumstances may dictate in the future.
  • Lump-sum alimony is a finite total sum to be paid in one installment, or in installments over a period of time, and it terminates only upon the death of the supported spouse. It is not terminable or modifiable based upon remarriage or changed circumstances in the future. This form of support may be ordered under circumstances where the court finds alimony appropriate, but determines that such an award be of a finite and non-modifiable nature.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is a finite sum to be paid in one installment or periodically. It is terminable upon the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, the death of either spouse or the occurrence of a specific event to occur in the future; it may be modifiable based upon unforeseen events frustrating the good faith efforts of the supported spouse to become self-supporting or the ability of the supporting spouse to pay the rehabilitative alimony.  The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the court finds it appropriate to provide for the rehabilitation of the supported spouse, but to provide modifiable ending dates coinciding with events considered appropriate by the court such as the completion of job training or education and the like, and to require rehabilitative efforts by the supported spouse.
  • Reimbursement alimony is to be paid in a finite sum, to be paid in one or periodic installments. It is terminable on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, or upon the death of either spouse but is not terminable or modifiable based upon changed circumstances in the future. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the court finds it necessary and desirable to reimburse the supported spouse from the future earnings of the payor spouse based upon circumstances or events that occurred during the marriage.

Separate maintenance and support is paid periodically, but terminates upon the continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, upon the divorce of the parties, or upon the death of either spouse and is terminable and modifiable based upon changed circumstances in the future. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where a divorce is not sought, but it is necessary to provide for support of the supported spouse by way of separate maintenance and support when the parties are living separate and apart.

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:

(1) 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;

(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;

(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with the need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;

(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;

(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;

(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;

(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;

(8) the marital and nonmarital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;

(9) 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;

(10) 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;

(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;

(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and

(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.

FAQs

“Continued cohabitation” means the supported spouse resides with another person in a romantic relationship for a period of ninety or more consecutive days. The court may determine that a continued cohabitation exists if there is evidence that the supported spouse resides with another person in a romantic relationship for periods of less than ninety days and the two periodically separate in order to circumvent the ninety-day requirement.
If you are paying non-modifiable alimony, then it cannot be changed. However, if you are paying permanent, periodic alimony it is subject to modification based upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. The loss of income may qualify as a substantial change. At the Bleecker Law Firm, our lawyers have decades of experience dealing with alimony cases, so call us to discuss your particular case.