Fighting for fair spousal support in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties
Divorce often leads to financial burdens for both parties. In some cases, one spouse may be entitled to compensation, called alimony, designed to help him or her maintain the lifestyle to which he or she has become accustomed. Often, this means allowing a spouse with fewer financial means to get back up on his or her feet again – but that doesn't keep alimony from being one of the most contentious parts of any divorce process.
Whether you are seeking an award, paying alimony, or need alimony modified, you deserve to have your voice heard, and deserve to be treated justly. At Holland Law in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, you are always treated with respect, and your best interests are considered at every step. When you need an alimony attorney who knows how to fight for what's right, give me a call.
The five types of alimony in South Carolina
Alimony is money that one spouse is ordered to pay for the support of the other spouse during and after a divorce. Alimony awards can be determined by a judge, or can be agreed upon by both parties as part of the divorce decree. Child custody, the amount of non-marital property, income and education levels, expected lifestyle, and other factors can impact the judge's decision.
South Carolina Code Section 20-3-130 delineates five types of alimony that may be awarded to a spouse:
- Periodic alimony is paid on a schedule for an indefinite period of time, and is based upon the current financial situation of each party and the needs of the supported spouse.
- Lump sum alimony is a set award, determined by a judge. It may be paid in one installment or several.
- Rehabilitative alimony is designed to enable the supported spouse to receive training or education that will provide a means to become financially independent. This support is typically paid in installments or periodically, and has modifiable ending dates that are triggered upon satisfying certain conditions.
- Reimbursement alimony is designed to repay the supported spouse for investments, either of time or money, made for the spouse being ordered to pay alimony. Often, you will see this alimony award in situations where the receiving spouse supported the paying spouse and family throughout his or her education and career.
- Separate maintenance and support is paid to support a spouse during the period of living separate and apart, whether or not divorce is sought in the end. It terminates when the divorce is finalized, or if the parties mutually choose to reconcile and resume their marriage.
Factors that affect alimony awards in South Carolina
Parties typically get into trouble when they find themselves intertwining alimony with the issues of child support and child custody. These are all independent of one another. You can't withhold alimony or child support because you've been denied visitation, and vice-versa. Either can result in being held in contempt of court.
- Length of marriage, along with your ages at the time of marriage and divorce (or action for separate maintenance)
- Physical and emotional condition of each spouse
- Need for additional training or education of each spouse to reach his or her income potential
- Employment history and earning potential of each spouse
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Current and reasonably anticipated earnings, expenses, and needs of each spouse
- Marital and non-marital property owned by the parties
- Custody of the children, particularly when circumstances are more appropriate that the custodian remain at home with the children
- Marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties when the misconduct affects the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except in limited circumstances
- Tax consequences to each party
- Existence and extent of any prior support obligations
Guaranteeing Fort Mill & Rock Hill alimony payments
Many spouses receiving support wind up back in court when the supporting spouse fails to make the required alimony payments. Either the payments don't show up, they arrive late, or they're less than the order specified. When direct payment of alimony fails, the judge may order that payments be made through the Family Court, which will carry an additional service fee, typically allocated to the supporting spouse.
Another potential challenge arises when a supporting spouse becomes disabled or dies, putting the supported spouse in a dire financial position. As a matter of public policy, the state's primary concern is avoiding the need for a spouse to require public assistance. As such, the court has authority to implement more creative means to guarantee payment of alimony, including:
- Posting of money
- Posting of property
- Paying a bond
- Securing a life insurance policy
Is it possible to modify an alimony order?
If a change in circumstances has made your alimony order untenable, you may be able to seek to have it modified — and for that, you'll need experienced legal representation.
Alimony falls under two categories: modifiable and non-modifiable.
- Modifiable means either party can request an increase or decrease by the court if circumstances later change. Periodic, rehabilitative, and reimbursement alimony are all modifiable. So are separate maintenance and support awards.
- Non-modifiable is just the opposite. Lump sum alimony cannot be increased, decreased, or terminated.
The parties can also agree that neither of them may request a review of any form of alimony at a later date, regardless of the circumstances. If you have made this agreement, you cannot seek to modify your order for alimony, and what you're awarded is all there will ever be.
Every form of alimony is terminable upon the death of either spouse.
Guarding your financial security during a Rock Hill or Fort Mill divorce
At Holland Law, I put my experience to work for you. I've helped hundreds of families in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties navigate the complexities of alimony and spousal support. If you have concerns related to an order for alimony or whether you may be entitled to alimony during your divorce, schedule a consultation in either my Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in my Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue by calling 803-590-6725 or through my contact page.