Alimony is payment one spouse makes to another to provide support following divorce. In South Carolina, alimony may also be awarded while divorce proceedings are pending. There are five types of alimony available in South Carolina:

  • Periodic Alimony: which involves ongoing payments subject to modification based on changed circumstances. The second type of is
  • Lump-Sum Alimony: It is a fixed amount paid once or in installments, and is not affected by changed circumstances or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: which is a fixed amount paid in lump-sum or installments. The purpose of it is to enable the recipient spouse to acquire the education and training necessary to become self-supporting. It can be modified if, due to unforeseen events, the supporting spouse cannot pay the alimony, or the recipient spouse is unable to obtain the skillset needed to become self-supporting.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: which is paid in lump-sum or installments. It seeks to reimburse the recipient spouse based on circumstances during the marriage. It is not terminable and cannot be modified due to changed circumstances.
  • Separate Maintenance and Support: which are periodic payments paid to either spouse while a couple is only separated and not divorced. It can be modified based on changed circumstances. 

Finally, the court has discretion to award any other form of support, or any combination of the above, deemed “just” based on the circumstances. It’s also important to keep in mind that any payments made for alimony are separate from any payments required for child support. The amount of child support is calculated separately and it often dependent on the nature of child custody.

How Do You Qualify for Alimony?

In determining alimony, the court will look at any factor it finds to be “relevant.” Key factors include duration of the marriage, age, physical and emotional condition of each spouse, education, employment history, current and potential income, standard of living during marriage, expenses, financial need, properties, fault, tax consequences of an award of alimony, and any alimony owed to a previous spouse. The court will also consider whether the spouse with custody of the children will be able to seek employment.

How Much Alimony Can You Receive?

South Carolina does not place limits on the amount of alimony a spouse can receive. It is important to hire a lawyer who can help you obtain a fair and reasonable amount, as the court will assess the above-mentioned factors in calculating alimony. Though there is no cap in South Carolina, alimony awards in the U.S. can run upwards of $1.3 million per year. Thus, whether you are asking for support, or think you will need to pay it, you can protect your future financial situation by hiring a lawyer.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

The duration of alimony depends on the type awarded. Periodic alimony is ongoing and terminates if either spouse dies, or upon the remarriage or “continued cohabitation” of the recipient spouse. “Continued cohabitation” means the recipient spouse has lived with a romantic partner for 90 or more days. Lump-sum alimony terminates at the end of payment or upon the death of the recipient spouse. Rehabilitative alimony has a set end date—when the recipient spouse acquires the education and training necessary to become self-supporting. It can terminate earlier, however, upon the death of either spouse, or remarriage or continued cohabitation of the recipient spouse. This is also true for reimbursement alimony and separate maintenance and support. The latter also terminates if the parties divorce.

How Do You Petition for Alimony?

A lawyer can help you during the difficult time of divorce by making sure you do not inadvertently waive your right to alimony. The court will not know you need spousal support unless you ask. A lawyer will petition for alimony in the beginning (with your divorce papers) and help you seek spousal support if you need it while your divorce proceedings are pending. 

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

It is crucial to protect yourself, as well as your current and future financial situation. If you are considering filing for divorce, or have been served with divorce papers, get expert help and contact your local South Carolina family lawyer today.