CHARLESTON SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND ALIMONY ATTORNEY JAY MCMILLIAN
WILL I RECEIVE ALIMONY AS A RESULT OF MY DIVORCE
The best place to start when discussing alimony is to debunk a common misconception. In South Carolina, alimony is not an instrument of punishment. Alimony is an instrument of support, not one of debt or retribution. Alimony is simply one spouse's duty to support the other spouse that arises out of the marriage. Alimony is to be paid after a final divorce is granted.
WHAT FACTORS ARE CONSIDERED IN AWARDING ALIMONY IN SOUTH CAROLINA
A Family Court in South Carolina will consider the following factors when deciding if alimony is warranted:
- The standard of living established in the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each party at time of marriage and divorce
- Physical and emotional condition of each party
- Educational background or need to obtain additional education
- Employment and earning potential of each party
- Anticipated earning potential
- Current and anticipated expenses of each party
- Marital and non-marital property of each party
- Who has custody of the children
- Tax consequences of making an alimony award
- The existence of support orders from previous marriages or for other children
The factors listed above support the notion that Alimony is a creature of economics, not of revenge.
IS THE MISCONDUCT OF MY SPOUSE CONSIDERED IN AWARDING ALIMONY
The answer to this question is “maybe.” A Family Court will not award alimony simply to punish your spouse. The main function of Alimony is to make sure that an otherwise innocent spouse is economically supported in a manner that he or she grew accustomed to in the marriage. To be considered, the fault being alleged must:
- Effect the economic circumstances of the parties, or
- Contributed to the break up, and
- Happened before the execution of any property / marital agreement or entry of a final Family Court Order on support and property division
WILL I RECEIVE ALIMONY IF I CHEATED ON MY SPOUSE
This is the one absolute concerning Alimony in South Carolina. Any party who has committed adultery is permanently barred from receiving alimony from a spouse.
HOW IS ALIMONY PAID
South Carolina has 4 Different Types of Alimony. Each type is paid for a specific purpose and in a specific period of time:
- Lump Sum: As the name suggests, this is alimony that is for a specific amount. It can be paid in a single installment or over a specific period of time. Example: Party may agree to pay a total of $50,000.00 either in a lump sum or over a period of 5 years.
- Periodic: This is the type of alimony most people are familiar with, this is alimony that is for a set amount to paid each month. This type of alimony is continuous until the death of either party or the remarriage / cohabitation of the spouse receiving payments. Example: Party is to pay the other spouse $500.00 a month until one of them dies or the party receiving the payments remarries or cohabitates with another person
- Rehabilitation: This alimony is paid in the same manner as lump sum alimony discussed above. The difference lies in the reason that rehabilitation alimony is paid. Example: Party pays the other party $50,000.00 over a period of 5 years so that supported party can receive education and training to be viable in job market after divorce.
- Reimbursement: Again operates like lump sum and rehabilitation alimony. Again the difference lies in why it is paid. This is paid to a party when they have sacrificed their own professional or personal pursuits in deference to serving the marriage and the family. Example: The party who quits their job to raise the children, do the housework, and keep the household functional while the other party was allowed to pursue professional and employment opportunities unfettered.
WHAT IS SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina does not recognize legal separation. However, it would be impractical for the Family Court system to not recognize that married couples do split apart and that it is not possible to wait until a final divorce hearing to address issues like spousal support. That is where separate support and maintenance comes in.
Separate support and maintenance specifically addresses the situation where couples are still married but living apart. It doesn't matter if the parties attempt to actually get a final divorce. Most often, separate support and maintenance will be raised in the context of a separated couple waiting for the one year period to run so they can get a final divorce, but this is not a requirement.
In more cases than not, the analysis by the Family Court in awarding separate support and maintenance will follow the same logic as the alimony analysis. As always, Family Court judges to retain discretion to determine any and all factors but generally the same factors from alimony will be applied.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO PURSUE ALIMONY OR SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE
The guidance provided by an attorney is vital in pursuing spousal support in a South Carolina Family Court. Though an attorney could never predict the amount of alimony that the Court would award, an attorney would be invaluable in negotiating alimony with an estranged spouse or arguing your case in front of the judge. An experienced attorney would be able to determine the type of alimony that should be paid and how the “bang for your buck” can be maximized through spousal support awards. It would be my privilege to serve you in and provide the expertise and guidance needed to navigate Family Court.