The divorce laws in many states recognize the “ten year rule,” which is a legal principle that affects how alimony is awarded in certain cases, i.e., in marriages that have lasted for ten years or longer. In most states that acknowledge and apply this rule, a spouse will be more likely to be eligible for alimony payments from the other spouse if the duration of the marriage is ten years or more. This rule can be very beneficial to divorcing individuals who earn much less than their spouses. In the state of South Carolina, there is no specific law that recognizes the ten-year rule, but there is a provision that permits the awarding of permanent periodic alimony in certain cases.
Awarding Alimony in a South Carolina Divorce
Under South Carolina law, judges consider a variety of factors in determining whether to award one spouse permanent alimony payments. These factors include the duration of the parties’ marriage, the financial status of each spouse, the parties’ custody arrangements, and the standard of living that the parties enjoyed during their marriage, as well as other factors. Under current law, divorce judges have a significant amount of flexibility to fashion an alimony award that is appropriate under the circumstances. South Carolina law also provides for rehabilitative alimony, which involves one spouse making alimony payments to the other for a fixed period of time. This type of alimony allows a former spouse to undertake the education and/or training that is necessary to make him or her self-supporting.
Permanent Alimony in South Carolina
Some individuals in South Carolina, including some lawmakers, are discussing the need to eliminate permanent alimony. Knight Kiplinger, in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance article, argues that while permanent alimony can be a useful tool to protect dependent spouses in some cases, individuals should have the ability to have a court review and modify an alimony award in certain circumstances.
Terminating Permanent Periodic Alimony in South Carolina
If a court orders a spouse to pay permanent periodic alimony in a South Carolina divorce, there are only three circumstances under which the alimony payments will end. First, if either spouse dies, the payments automatically end. Next, if the spouse who is receiving alimony payments remarries, then he or she will lose the right to receive alimony payments. Finally, if the spouse who is receiving the alimony payments cohabitates with a significant other for more than 30 days, the other spouse is no longer required to pay alimony.
Contact Your South Carolina Alimony Attorney Today
At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, we know how difficult it can be during a South Carolina divorce in which alimony is an issue. Whether you are seeking an alimony award or potentially being ordered to pay alimony, we will work to represent your interests and build a strong case on your behalf. Contact our office today and learn how we can make a difference in your pending divorce case.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.