In divorce proceedings, an order for alimony can help a spouse maintain the quality of life they enjoyed during their marriage, in addition to helping them get the training and education they need to rebuild their career after absences from the workplace. Unfortunately, it can also place an undue burden on the paying spouse, particularly if they are ordered to pay large amounts after having been married for only a relatively short time. The following outlines alimony laws in South Carolina, as well as reform efforts that have been ongoing in our state.
South Carolina Alimony Laws
Guidelines for when alimony awards in divorce actions are listed under Section 20-3-130 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. There are four types of alimony the judge can order:
Periodic alimony: Used in cases where a spouse lacks the training or ability to provide for themselves or to help maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to in their marriage. Payments are ongoing, expiring in the event of remarriage, continued cohabitation, or upon the death of the receiving spouse.
Lump sum alimony: As an alternative to periodic alimony, this involves a specific amount of alimony to be paid, either in one lump sum or spread over payments, generally as part of a divorce settlement.
Rehabilitative alimony: These types of alimony payments are ordered on a temporary basis in cases where the receiving spouse requires formal training or education to obtain suitable employment, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient.
Reimbursement alimony: This is a form of temporary alimony used to reimburse the receiving spouse due to events that occurred during the marriage.
The type of alimony awarded depends on several factors. The presiding judge will consider the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and whether one sacrificed their own career goals or educational opportunities to support the other or any children of the marriage. Under South Carolina alimony laws, alimony may not be ordered in cases where the spouse requesting it is found to have committed adultery.
Rights To Alimony
Alimony reform is a major issue in South Carolina, with various bills being debated in the House and Senate over the past several years. Advocates with the South Carolina Alimony Reform movement claim the following:
That the current system places an undue burden on the paying spouse, often requiring them to pay between one third and half of their total income on a permanent basis, even after marriages of only several years
That these types of alimony payments prevent them from being able to support current family members or make plans for retirement, as well as hindering them in assisting children of the marriage with college education costs
They advocate for more transitional, temporary alimony payments, which can be modified over time to adjust for changes in the situation
To find out more about alimony and how it might apply to your situation, call or contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC online and request a free consultation in our Aiken office today. Our family law attorneys can advise you on the options available in your situation, while helping to ensure your rights are protected.