Alimony Attorney in Charleston, SC
Claims for alimony in South Carolina are very often sticking points for parties involved in separation or divorce. Is alimony/spousal support even appropriate under the circumstances? If so, how much is appropriate, and for how long should it be paid? Should it be tax-deductible by the paying spouse and reported as income to the receiving spouse? Experienced divorce lawyers and Family Courts often struggle with deciding the appropriateness of alimony/spousal support, so do not feel overwhelmed.
South Carolina does have an alimony statute, South Carolina Code § 20-3-130. The statute sets forth the types of alimony available as well as the factors to be used in setting alimony. In general, South Carolina has four types of alimony: (1) permanent periodic alimony, (2) rehabilitative alimony, (3) reimbursement alimony, and (4) lump sum alimony. When alimony or spousal support is awarded, the purpose is to help the supported spouse maintain the lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage. In other words, alimony is designed to maintain the status quo for both spouses.
Permanent Periodic Alimony
Permanent periodic alimony is the most common form of alimony in South Carolina. As its name suggests, it is paid periodically, which usually means monthly. The paying spouse pays until: (a) either spouse dies; (b) the supported spouse remarries; or (c) the supported spouse cohabitates with a new romantic partner for a period of 90 days or more. Permanent periodic alimony may be changed or terminated on a showing of a substantial change of circumstances.
Rehabilitative alimony is alimony set for a period of years and paid periodically. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded only when the Court finds that one spouse needs some financial assistance over a period of time to become self-supporting. Further education, work experience, or training may boost the supported spouse to a level where he or she can be self-sufficient. An example may be the parent who did not go to college in order to handle household duties while the other spouse began a career.
Reimbursement alimony is used to reimburse one spouse for financial or other contribution to the other spouse’s education, career, training, business, or whatever else the other spouse uses to generate income or assets that he or she will enjoy after the marriage. The supported spouse may have invested money into the other spouse’s business, or may have paid for other things like childcare so that the other spouse could finance their career.
Lump Sum Alimony
Lump sum alimony in South Carolina is a fixed sum paid up front instead of over time like periodic alimony. The lump sum may be paid all at once or in installments. Lump sum alimony is often used as part of a settlement agreement, and is favored by many spouses who want to finalize the parties’ physical and emotional separation instead of having to remain in communication due to the monthly alimony obligation.
Adultery = No Alimony
Alimony cannot be awarded where the supported spouse has committed adultery prior to either (a) issuance of a Divorce Decree or Final Order of Separate Maintenance and Support; or (b) the signing of a written settlement agreement.
Alimony can be a tricky area of the law. It is not as straightforward as child support. Before you agree to anything with your spouse, call or email me at RHB Law Firm, LLC, so that we can protect your rights together.