Alimony is support paid and received after divorce.  It comes in the form of payments made by one former spouse to another, and it is available to either party.  Alimony is a support obligation, not a device used to punish one side or the other, and it is best looked at as a continuance of one ex-spouse’s duty to support the other — a duty which grew out of the marital relationship.

Below are some common questions regarding alimony in South Carolina:

Am I Going to have to Pay Alimony?

The stated purpose of alimony is to place the supported spouse, as nearly as is practical, in the position of support he or she enjoyed during the marriage. Voelker v. Hillock, 288 S.C. 622 (Ct. App. 1986). There are multiple factors in determining whether a party is entitled to alimony such as:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age of the Parties
  • Education of the parties
  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Physical condition of each spouse
  • Emotional condition of each spouse
  • Need of each spouse for additional training/education
  • Employment history of the parties
  • Current and reasonably anticipated incomes of each spouse
  • Current and reasonably anticipate expenses of each spouse
  • Custody of children and impact on employment/income
  • Marital misconduct or fault of each spouse
  • Tax consequences of alimony

Generally, if parties have a reasonably large discrepancy in incomes and have been together for approximately ten years, alimony will be considered by the Court. However, there is no bright line rule nor calculator for alimony. Case law has developed various formulas, none of which have codified into law. This creates a serious concern for litigants and can lead to costly and extended litigation expenses. It is important to get good legal advice at the beginning to determine whether you are at risk for exposure to alimony or entitled to alimony. 

Is adultery a bar to alimony?

Yes, this is one of the few bright line rules in alimony; however, it must occur prior to the signing of a settlement or property agreement. Parties should keep in mind adultery may be difficult to prove in Court.

Can a husband receive alimony from a wife?

Yes, in general when case law refers to alimony it refers to the female pronoun, but times are changing and women are potentially as much at risk of exposure to alimony as men depending on the financial circumstances.

Is alimony fair?

Unlike child support, South Carolina has no official alimony calculator and much discretion is left to the Court, which sometimes makes it difficult to accurately determine a party’s exposure. The Miller Law Firm, P.A.’s endeavors to provide clients with best and worst case scenarios to help parties make accurate assessments. For parties concerned about the issue of alimony, the South Carolina Alimony Reform Group is tackling a host of issues related to alimony and their website can be found at http://www.scalimonyreform.com/. The Miller Law Firm, P.A. offers no endorsement of this group; however, the firm does acknowledge the general public’s confusion and concerns regarding this area of law.

Will alimony automatically end when I retire?

Unless negotiated otherwise, permanent periodic alimony has no defined end date regardless of retirement.

What can I do to modify my alimony support obligations?

Generally, periodic permanent alimony can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances. For parties who have retired, the Courts have recognized this as a potential substantial change of circumstances; however, the decision to terminate or modify alimony is one made by the Courts. Courts generally recognize a right to retire over the age of 65, but once again there is no bright line rule.

Does alimony terminate if I remarry?

Yes. As with child support modifications, issues involving alimony may be unique to an individual case and The Miller Law Firm, P.A. helps clients determine whether their case is ripe for modification. As important, The Miller Law Firm, P.A. can help clients prior to divorce to ensure that any settlement agreements contain language protecting either the obligor or payer spouse.

As you can see, there are many factors that can impact alimony, so like other areas of Family Law, there is no bright line rule governing most aspects of alimony. We can help with issues of alimony, divorce and other areas of family law. Call the Miller Law Firm, P.A. today at (864) 527-0413.