How is Alimony Determined in South Carolina?

You may be contemplating a separation from your spouse or divorce.  If so, you may be concerned about having to pay alimony or whether or not you qualify for alimony.  If you believe you are entitled to alimony, your concerns may include your ability to support yourself, your children and maintain the life style to which you have become accustomed.  If you are the spouse who may be subject to an alimony award, you may have concerns about your ability to pay alimony timely and for how long you may have to pay it. 

The family court has exclusive jurisdiction over this issue.  You may be aware that there are South Carolina Child Support Guidelines in South Carolina.  Essentially, these guidelines provide a formula used to aid the judges and lawyers in calculating child support.  Unlike child support, however, there is no singular formula for the calculation of alimony in our state.  Rather, family court judges and divorce lawyers use the case law and alimony factors in determining alimony.  There are thirteen factors.  Some of these factors are: 

  • the duration of the marriage and the ages of the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the filing of divorce or at separation; 
  • the physical health and emotional condition of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the date of separation or filing for divorce; 
  • the educational background of each spouse together for the need of additional education/training to maximize income; 
  • the employment history and earning potential of each spouse; 
  • the parties’ standard of living during the marriage; 
  • current and reasonably anticipated earning of each spouse; 
  • current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of each spouse; 
  • which party received custody of the children; 
  • marital misconduct or fault; 
  • tax consequences of any award; 
  • division of the marital estate including any nonmarital property that each party has; 
  • existence and extent of any support obligation of either party; and, 
  • and any other factors that the courts determine to be relevant. 

In applying these factors, the court has much discretion in the amounts that may be awarded.  It is important to employ and to seek guidance from an experienced divorce attorney on this topic.  Of importance, if you or your spouse waive alimony, it may be a permanent waiver of alimony and you may never be able to seek it in the future.  Thus, it is very important to seek the advice of a qualified divorce attorney as you prepare for and proceed with your case. 

Blog post written by Family Law Attorney, Allison P. Dunham

 

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