People often wonder, “Am I eligible for alimony?” or they may fear, “I’m afraid my spouse is going to get a ton of alimony from me!”
So, how does one know if he or she is eligible for alimony or is at risk for having to pay alimony?
South Carolina does not have a mathematical equation to calculate alimony. The judge will use judicial discretion to determine if you get alimony and how much you will get. He or she uses several factors to determine the amount of alimony to be paid, if any.
There is also one situation in which alimony will never be awarded. A person who is proven to have committed adultery before the signing of a formal and written marital settlement agreement and before the entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or permanent order of approval of a marital settlement agreement is absolutely barred from receiving alimony.
Determining the Amount of Alimony
So what are some of the factors that the judge will use to determine if alimony should be paid and if so, how much?
The court will look at the length of time the parties were married. The idea is that the spouse to receive alimony should have the same standard of living he or she enjoyed during the course of the marriage. Sometimes a person will need alimony from the spouse to ensure that standard of living.
The judge will consider the ability of the person who is to pay the alimony. Also, the judge will consider the ability of the person receiving alimony to support himself or herself.
Marital misconduct can also be considered in the court’s decision to award alimony.
S.C. Code Ann. 20-3-130(c)(1-13) enumerates the list of factors the court must consider in deciding alimony. This is not an exhaustive list, as the Code says the judge may consider “such other factors the court considers relevant.”
Types of Alimony
There are also different types of alimony in South Carolina.
Lump Sum Alimony
Lump sum alimony is a finite amount of money that must be paid to the other spouse. Once that amount is paid, the alimony obligation is over.
Periodic alimony is an amount of money due usually monthly to the other spouse. Periodic alimony can be modified based on either party showing a change in circumstance.
Periodic alimony will end when the receiving spouse remarries or continues to cohabitate with another. It will also terminate if either spouse dies. Sometimes periodic alimony will end after a certain amount of time, although if alimony is warranted, permanent, periodic alimony is favored.
Rehabilitative alimony is designed to give support to the receiving spouse for a length of time that will allow that person to achieve rehabilitation such as education or job training. It can be modified based on either party showing a change in circumstance, for example, a decrease or increase in income of one of the parties.
Rehabilitative alimony also terminates if the receiving spouse remarries or continues to cohabitate with another. It will also terminate if either spouse dies. It also may terminate when a certain event occurs, like graduation from college.
Reimbursement alimony is designed to repay the receiving spouse for something that occurred during the course of the marriage. For example, if one person helped pay for the other to go to college, the court may order the person with the degree to repay the person that helped pay. Reimbursement alimony can NOT be modified based on either party showing a change in circumstance.
Reimbursement alimony is for a finite sum, as it is like repaying a debt. It will terminate if the receiving spouse remarries or if either spouse dies. Separate maintenance and support is payments made to one spouse by the other during the period of separation. It will terminate when the parties get divorced. It will also terminate if either spouse dies. Separate maintenance and support can be modified based on either party showing a change in circumstance.
Worried about how alimony will be awarded in your case?
As you can tell, there are many factors that go into deciding if alimony is warranted, and if so, how much should be paid and what type of alimony should be paid?
There is not some formula that calculates a number as if one were calculating child support. Alimony is determined based on the particular facts of each case. While there are parameters that guide the court, it is difficult to determine exactly what the court will decide.
An attorney can help you determine if you may be eligible for alimony. If you have questions about alimony or are looking for a family law attorney in Summerville, South Carolina give me a call at 843.970.2929 or send me a message by completing this form.