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Calculating Alimony: Factors Considered in South Carolina Courts

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What is Alimony?

Alimony, often called spousal support in South Carolina, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to another following a divorce and sometimes throughout the divorce process.

Spousal support is meant to help ensure that either spouse isn’t left with financial duress and that they can both maintain the level of security, within reason, that they had while married.

The laws and calculations are ever-changing, so it’s essential to speak with an experienced attorney to help you determine what options are available to you.

What Types of Alimony Are Available in South Carolina?

There are multiple different types of alimony that you can pursue during the divorce process.

Alimony pendente lite is temporary spousal support that the other spouse can utilize during the divorce process should they need to. It is meant to last only as long as the other party needs to become financially stable.

Lump Sum Alimony – if the courts determine that a lump sum is to be paid to the other spouse, they may order that it be paid in full or over a set period of time in installments. Once determined, this amount can’t be changed or adjusted. The drawback is if the receiving spouse gets remarried or significant changes occur for either party, the paying spouse is still required to fulfill the lump sum agreement.

Periodic Alimony – sometimes called Permanent Periodic Alimony, is typically the most common form of alimony awarded in South Carolina. The typical arrangement consists of weekly or monthly payments of a consistent amount until one of a few scenarios occurs;

Either spouse passes away.
The receiving spouse cohabitates with a new partner for 90 days or longer
The receiving spouse gets remarried

Reasonable modifications can be made to this arrangement as stipulated in the divorce proceedings or under extreme circumstances.

Other Types of Alimony

Rehabilitative Alimony is another option and is typically reserved for a situation where the receiving spouse is actively pursuing more income, whether through training for a higher-income career or finishing school so they have options for higher income. Once the agreed-upon goal has been reached, the rehabilitative alimony stops. Within reason, the paying spouse can also review and modify during the process if the receiving spouse fails to keep up their end of the deal. This type of alimony can be a lump sum payment or paid in installments. Rehabilitative alimony also ceases upon the receiving spouse remarrying or cohabitating with a new partner.

Reimbursement alimony is less common but is awarded to a spouse if there has been a significant investment to the other spouse in terms of helping them further their career or earning potential. This investment could be through financial support or noneconomic means, such as taking care of the household or the children so the other spouse has more time to focus on their career/training. It terminates when the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner.

What Factors Help Determine Alimony?

Each state will review certain aspects of each spouse’s life to determine an appropriate amount of alimony and for how long the alimony should exist.

Below is a list of some of the common aspects that are considered; it is not meant to be an exhaustive list:

  • The duration of marriage is one of the main characteristics that go into alimony calculation. Courts want to understand how long the couple was married and what age they both are now.
  • The custody of the children is also a determining factor, as depending on where the children will spend most of their time will determine how many expenses each party can expect to have.
  • The educational background of either spouse determines their current and future earning potential and if they will need assistance to get them to a higher income level.
  • The standard of living during the marriage will also be reviewed. Within reason, courts will aim to keep it consistent for both parties if possible.
  • The employment history of both spouses and how stable they were in their careers will be reviewed.
  • Current expenses for either spouse and estimated future expenses will help determine if they will fluctuate or remain steady in the coming years.
  • Assets that each party currently owns or will be designated due to the divorce and their value.
  • Tax implications for both parties as a result of awarding spousal support and how this will affect both parties will be reviewed.
  • Was there clear marital misconduct or fault of either party? This aspect will be reviewed and taken into consideration as well.
  • If either spouse has prior obligations of support or alimony elsewhere and the total amount or time period for those expected payments.

What if I Were Awarded Alimony and I’m Not Receiving It?

Refusing to follow through on an alimony agreement is a serious matter. If you were awarded alimony and your ex-spouse is not paying it consistently, you can request court assistance.

Judges can order that the paying spouse’s income be garnished, they may issue fines or jail time, and order that they pay attorney’s fees used to resolve the issue.

Don’t Leave Your Financial Future to Chance

It’s important to note that judges consider all relevant factors but have the ultimate discretion. Due to this, having an experienced and determined attorney on your side can change the trajectory of your life.

With nearly 25 years of experience and a focus on alimony, divorce, and other relevant family law issues, he is more than capable of striving towards your desired goals and aggressively pursuing them.

Contact our office today at (864) 689-4482 to get started.

We look forward to serving you.

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