We are Passionate About Helping Our Clients Get the Financial Support They Need.
The Charleston, South Carolina alimony lawyers at the Seaton Law Office make it a priority to ensure that our clients get the financial support that they need after a separation or divorce, whether that is in the form of spousal support, child support, or both.
Are you entitled to alimony?
You might be, if you need financial support to continue the standard of living you had while married, if your marriage was long-term, or if there is a significant difference in your and your former spouse’s earning potential.
Understanding Alimony in South Carolina
What is Alimony in South Carolina?
Your spousal support lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina can ask the court to order alimony payments that are intended to allow you to continue the standard of living you enjoyed during your marriage.
Alimony may be appropriate if you were in a long-term marriage and when your spouse’s education level or earning potential is significantly greater than yours – especially if you helped your former spouse to attain their education level and earning potential by supporting them, maintaining the household, or being the primary caretaker for your children.
Alimony can be Enforced by the Court
When alimony has been ordered, but your former spouse is not paying it, we can ask the family court to enforce the payment of court-ordered spousal support.
We will file a “Rule to Show Cause” that asks the court to enforce the alimony order and to hold your former spouse in contempt of court if they do not make the payments as ordered by the court.
There are Different Types of Alimony in South Carolina
SC Code Section 20-3-130(B) identifies six situations where the court can order alimony “in such amounts and for periods of time subject to conditions as the court considers just,” including:
- Periodic alimony that is paid monthly on an ongoing basis,
- Lump-sum alimony that is paid in a single installment or periodically over time,
- Rehabilitative alimony paid in one installment or over time, intended to allow the supported spouse to complete their education or job training,
- Reimbursement alimony that is paid in a single installment or over time that is intended to reimburse the supported spouse for events that occurred during the marriage,
- Separate support and maintenance that is paid monthly on an ongoing basis where the parties are separated but not seeking a divorce, or
- Any other form of spousal support that is appropriate under the circumstances.
Alimony can be Modified by the Court
Some types of alimony can be modified by the court when there is a substantial change in circumstances.
For example, periodic alimony, rehabilitative alimony, or separate support and maintenance can be terminated based on remarriage (or continued cohabitation), and they can be modified based on a change in circumstances.
Lump-sum alimony, on the other hand, cannot be terminated or modified based on remarriage or changed circumstances.
Reimbursement alimony can be terminated based on remarriage, but cannot be modified based on a change in circumstances.
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Four (4) Steps To Take If You’re Fighting for Alimony Payments in South Carolina
1. Meet with Your Attorney Regarding Alimony as Soon as Possible
If you are considering separation or divorce, talk to your alimony lawyer in South Carolina as soon as possible and they can help you determine whether you are entitled to alimony or spousal support.
Depending on your situation, your Charleston, South Carolina alimony attorneys can:
- Negotiate alimony payments with your former spouse or their attorney,
- Schedule mediation to help resolve alimony and other important issues before you go to court,
- Request a temporary hearing in your divorce case to ask the court to order spousal support payments, and
- Ask the court for a spousal support order as part of your final divorce decree
3. Do not Commit Adultery
Separated, free, and ready to start dating?
Not so fast…
South Carolina alimony law says that you cannot be awarded alimony if you commit adultery before 1) a formal written property or marital settlement agreement is signed or 2) the family court has entered a permanent order of separate support and maintenance or a permanent order approving your marital settlement agreement.
If you are entitled to spousal support, don’t take a chance on losing it by getting back into the dating game too soon…
2. Document the Reasons You are Entitled to Alimony
You will need to document the reasons that you are entitled to alimony, keeping in mind the statutory factors (found in SC Code Section 20-1-130(C)) that the family court will consider, including:
- The length of your marriage,
- Your age and your former spouse’s age at the time of marriage and at the time of divorce,
- Your and your former spouse’s physical and emotional condition,
- Your and your former spouse’s employment history and earning potential,
- Your standard of living during your marriage,
- Your and your former spouse’s current and anticipated earnings,
- Your and your former spouse’s anticipated needs and expenses,
- The marital and nonmarital property owned by each spouse,
- Who has custody of the children – especially when child custody will limit your employment,
- Marital misconduct of either spouse,
The tax consequences of an alimony award,
Any alimony payments from prior marriages, and
- Any other factors that the court finds are relevant.
4. Monitor Your Behavior
It’s not just adultery that can prevent you from getting an alimony award.
South Carolina law on alimony also says that “marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties” is a factor the family court should consider in making a decision on spousal support if:
- The misconduct “affects or has affected” the parties’ economic circumstances, or
- Contributed to the breakup of the marriage.
As with adultery, any misconduct should not be considered for purposes of alimony if it happened after 1) a formal written property or marital settlement agreement is signed or 2) the family court has entered a permanent order of separate support and maintenance or a permanent order approving your marital settlement agreement.
Ready To Speak With An Attorney?
Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.
Common Questions About Alimony in South Carolina
How is alimony determined?
If the parties do not agree to alimony payments, whether as part of a negotiated settlement agreement or through mediation, the family court will make the decision taking into consideration the factors listed above.
Is alimony guaranteed in every case?
The family court will only order spousal support when the court finds that it is appropriate based on the statutory factors.
You will need to prove to the court, keeping in mind the statutory factors, that alimony is appropriate and that it will not place an undue hardship on your former spouse.
When does alimony stop?
Alimony payments may be terminated in South Carolina based on:
- The remarriage of the person receiving the alimony,
- Continued cohabitation of the supported spouse with someone in a romantic relationship for 90 or more consecutive days (or if the supported spouse and their romantic interest separate periodically to avoid the 90-day requirement), or
- If either former spouse dies.