Now that you have come to the realization of the marriage that you thought would last forever is ending; it is time to think about the individual parties and the children. If one of the spouses earns substantially more than the other, the lower earner will most likely be awarded some form of support by the court. It may be referred to as Alimony in South Carolina, spousal support, or maintenance but they all mean basically the same thing.
The goal is to help the under-earning spouse to be “made whole”. As it is written, the purpose is so that one spouse will not become rich and the other left indigent. The alimony can be established at early negotiations or mediation as long as a judge will sign off on it. A trial judge has wide discretion in setting alimony including calculating for a custodial mom with young children that she has always kept at home, or a dad that needs additional education to reach his dream job which he delayed while his spouse has been the primary wage earner.
In each of these cases, a Family Court Judge could award different types of alimony awards for different dollar amounts and different lengths of time. A family law attorney can help you understand alimony in South Carolina.
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What kind of Alimony is available in Greenville SC?
There are 4 types of alimony in South Carolina. Each is awarded based on certain criteria and length is determined by the trial judge or at mediation or negotiations. There is also pendente lite, this is an amount of support awarded to the lower/non-earning, supported spouse during the separation and trial period. It can be agreed on early in separation, or we can present a motion to the court. Your Alimony Attorney can discuss these options with you to help determine the best type for you.
- Lump Sum Alimony-This is when the court awards the lower earner a lump sum for the total alimony. This is beneficial if one party is buying out the other party in the family home or other large purchases. Also if the higher earner just wants to pay off alimony and be finished with it. The judge needs to be made aware that lump sum alimony is the type that the parties want in advance so he can properly calculate the total value of the award.
- Periodic Alimony-This is the most frequently awarded type of alimony. This is normally monthly alimony paid to the lower income spouse based on the difference in income and expenses. Periodic alimony payments can be awarded as permanent, or for a certain number of years.
- Rehabilitative Alimony-This type of alimony is awarded when the recipient spouse can improve their income to a level to be self-supportive with additional training or education. For example, an LPN that left her RN training to marry a physician. Now at the time of the divorce, she wants to return to get her RN. The court will award her enough alimony to get through the period of training including extra for the child care she will have to pay for the children while she is in class.
- Reimbursement Alimony-This form of alimony is to get reimbursement for one spouse from the other for moneys spent on the other spouse’s education, business, and other types of expensive needs. If the wife pulls out $25,000 from her IRA to help her husband start his very successful small business, she can seek reimbursement alimony for that $25,000.
There is also a type of support called Separate Maintenance. This is for when the spouses do not want to live as a married couple but do not actually want to divorce, for whatever reason.
They may live separately or even in the same house. Usually this is necessary when the spouse with higher income and assets has ceased to support the recipient spouse. If this is the case, the payee must be truly needy and unable to pay the bills deemed their responsibility. This spouse needs a professional to help draw up the Separate Maintenance agreement to ensure that the needs are met and that a judge will sign off on it.
There have been occasions when the payor spouse is supporting the payee and wants it in a formal separate maintenance agreement that also needs to be draw up correctly.
3 Important facts about Alimony
- Cohabitation with another party in an intimate relationship for over 90 days will give the paying ex-spouse valid cause to request termination for most types of alimony. Alimony will also terminate with the death of either party, remarriage of the receiving party, or a significant change in circumstances that affect either party’s income, total assets, or expenses.
- No-one, male or female can receive alimony if it is discovered they committed adultery prior to the divorce.
- Tax consequences have changed since 01/01/2019. Now the payor spouse does not report the deduction paid nor does the recipient report as income. There were discrepancies in the amounts being deducted as payments and the amount reported as income being received by recipients.
Will I get Alimony after my divorce?
There are many factors that weigh into the calculation of spousal support and the length of time it is awarded for. Each case is unique and an experienced family law attorney can help you better understand your situation. When awarding South Carolina alimony, some of these include:
- Length of time the couple was married and the ages at which they were married
- Physical, mental, and emotional condition of each spouse
- Educational background of each spouse and if additional training would increase earning capacity
- Employment history, current earnings, earning potential of each spouse
- Standard of Living established during the marriage
- Current expenses and anticipated expenses for each spouse
- Marital and Non-marital properties of the parties including those apportioned in divorce
- Custodial status of any children, particularly how it affects custodian’s ability to work
- Any Fault or Marital Misconduct on the part of either party, used as a basis for divorce or not
- Any existence of prior obligation of spousal support payment or child support
A trial judge will review and consider all of these facts in calculating the alimony and the type awarded. That is why it is imperative that you provide your attorney with all of the information they request. You also must be sure you know the answers to these questions. When it is your time to testify, you need to be able to answer the opposing attorney and the judge’s questions. A good Alimony Attorney in Greenville South Carolina will have you prepared for all of the questions you might face.
When will my alimony start?
If you and your estranged spouse can agree on all of the details of your divorce, including the alimony or level of support, it can become effective as soon as you agree to it, as a pendente lite arrangement. If not, you may come to an agreement at mediation or another place along the way; anytime the two of you agree, the support can start. Just keep in mind, until it is on a signed contract, it can also stop. If you and your estranged spouse agree on an amount any time before the final ruling is made, call your attorney and get it in writing.
If there has been no early arrangement, immediately following the Final Divorce Decree signature date, your alimony begins. The paperwork does not set an exact date, so you may need to work with your ex-spouse to see what is the best date. If most of your payments are due by the 5th of the month, request the 1st. Try to work with the paying spouse, if you don’t the payments may stop and that will not do anyone any good.
What if my Ex-spouse stops making his alimony payments?
If your ex-spouse fails to meet his support obligation or child support payment in South Carolina, you need to report it to your attorney immediately. There is a complaint form that needs to be completed and submitted to the court. There are a variety of avenues the judge can take including: forcing compliance by enforcing mailings, withholding from their income, fines, attorney fees, or even a jail sentence.
There are so many variables in divorce, alimony, and child support that it usually is not the best idea to face it without representation. We have worked with many heartbroken and disheartened people in this profession; and we still treat each and every one as if they are the only client that matters. We sympathize with you on the hard days and celebrate your victories with you.
Our Family Law team will work hard to get the very best settlement for you and your family. Our experienced divorce attorneys have the knowledge to handle any issues you may have related to alimony or other marital agreements. We will handle the difficult legal aspects so you can focus on yourself and your future. Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with a Greenville family law attorney to discuss your options.