Alimony is support incident to the marital relationship for the purpose of placing the spouse receiving alimony in a position to enjoy the same standard of living or position of support he or she enjoyed during the marriage. Our courts have the authority to award alimony on a temporary or permanent basis. Our statutes define six (6) different types of spousal support, including four(4) types of alimony as follows:
1) Periodic Alimony;
2) Lump-sum Alimony;
3) Rehabilitative alimony;
4) Reimbursement alimony;
5) Separate Support and Maintenance; and
6) Such other form of spousal support, under terms and conditions as the court may consider just, as appropriate under the circumstances without limitation to grant more than one form of support.
More specifically, the four (4) types of alimony in South Carolina can be described as follows:
PERIODIC ALIMONY: Periodic alimony is the favored form of alimony in South Carolina. This alimony terminates on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or upon the death of either spouse and terminable and modifiable based upon substantial changed circumstances occurring in the future. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the court finds it appropriate to order the payment of alimony on an ongoing basis where it is desirable to make a current determination and requirement for the ongoing support of a spouse to be reviewed and revised as circumstances may dictate in the future.
The court will play close attention to the duration of the parties’ marriage, the parties’ financial circumstances and whether either spouse was more at fault than the other when determining whether or not to award periodic alimony.
LUMP SUM ALIMONY: A fixed sum of alimony to be paid in one installment, or periodically over a period of time. Lump sum alimony terminates only upon the death of the supported spouse, and is not terminable or modifiable based upon remarriage or changed circumstances in the future. Our statute delineates the purpose of lump-sum alimony as being where the court finds alimony appropriate but determines that such an award be of a finite and non-modifiable nature.
REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY: A finite sum to be paid in one installment or periodically, terminable upon the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, the death of either spouse (with limited exception) or the occurrence of a specific event to occur in the future, or modifiable based upon unforeseen events frustrating the good faith efforts of the supported spouse to become self‑supporting or the ability of the supporting spouse to pay the rehabilitative alimony. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the court finds it appropriate to provide for the rehabilitation of the supported spouse, but to provide modifiable ending dates coinciding with events considered appropriate by the court such as the completion of job training or education and the like, and to require rehabilitative efforts by the supported spouse.
REIMBURSEMENT ALIMONY: A finite sum, to be paid in one installment or periodically, terminable on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, or upon the death of either spouse (with limited exception), but not terminable or modifiable based upon changed circumstances in the future. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the court finds it necessary and desirable to reimburse the supported spouse from the future earnings of the payor spouse based upon circumstances or events that occurred during the marriage.
When making a determination as to whether or not an award of alimony or separate support and maintenance is appropriate, judges will look to the ALIMONY FACTORS as delineated in S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-130(C) (1976) as follows alimony as follows:
In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:
(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;
(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;
(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;
(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;
(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;
(8) the marital and non-marital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;
(9) custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;
(10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;
(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;
(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and
(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.
If you wish to speak with someone regarding issues or questions related to alimony or spousal support, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of J. Wyatt Wimberly, LLC today for a consultation to discuss the best option to help you move forward.