Alimony is often a part of many divorces. Many people want to know if they will have to pay alimony after a divorce. If they do have to pay, they usually want to know how much and for how long.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is designed to keep the receiving spouse financially stable after a divorce. Alimony payments help maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Often, one person might be left economically unstable after a divorce. Alimony is in place to keep that from becoming a reality.
If one spouse is the primary income earner for the family, the court can order alimony as part of the divorce settlement. An example of this is when one person stays home to raise the children full time. Often, this person leaves the workforce and can struggle to find employment.
After a divorce, the non-working partner can face severe financial hardships. The court understands this. Alimony is designed to prevent this from happening.
How Do I Get Alimony?
Courts will award alimony, also known as spousal support when there is a significant income difference between the divorcing parties.
The process is designed to be fair for all individuals. However, there are situations where alimony is not an option. South Carolina identifies fault-based divorces. An example of this is if one spouse can prove adultery by the other.
South Carolina considers adultery a reason for a fault-based divorce. If adultery is proven, then alimony is no longer an option during the divorce process.
How Alimony is Determined in Greenville
The courts look at several factors when determining alimony. All these factors combined will determine the amount of time the court orders alimony payments. These factors include:
- Length of Marriage: If you were married for over ten years, the obligation would be much longer than couples married for only a few years.
- Special Needs of One Spouse: If one spouse is sick or has other special needs, the court might order alimony.
- Education / Job Prospects: Can the disadvantaged spouse successfully re-enter the workforce?
- Work History: Has one spouse had a stable job for several years? This can show that they are capable of paying alimony. If both individuals have steady employment, then alimony might not be necessary.
- Living Standards: If the divorce drastically changes the standard of living established during the marriage, alimony can be awarded. The courts do not want to see one person default on loans and mortgages.
- Future Earnings or Expenses: These factors can determine if alimony amounts are increased or reduced.
- Children: Usually, child support and alimony are considered together. There are individual costs associated with raising children that the court will consider.
- Tax Concerns: Spousal support must be claimed on your yearly tax returns. If you are paying alimony, you can deduct that amount from your taxes.
- Marital Misconduct: If one spouse commits adultery, then spousal support for that party is not an option in South Carolina.
Length of Alimony Payments
Anyone who has to pay alimony will naturally wonder just how long those payments will last. This is where a reasonable Greenville, SC family law attorney can be beneficial. A Greenville Divorce Attorney will work to help you settle your divorce without going to trial. The amount of time alimony must be paid will be part of your divorce settlement.
South Carolina offers four separate types of alimony: Rehabilitation, Periodic Sum, Reimbursement, and Lump Sum.
The actual amount of time is determined by many of the factors listed above. The ultimate goal of alimony is to get one spouse back on their feet after the divorce. In South Carolina, alimony payments can be modified if circumstances change. These options are only available if you have a Rehabilitation or Periodic Sum alimony payment.
For example, if the receiving spouse lands a lucrative job or gets remarried. You can also ask for a change in amount if your financial circumstances change.
If you have a Reimbursement or Lump-Sum alimony payment, those are not eligible to be changed through the courts. Your spouse can agree to replace the fees for these types, but they are not obligated to do so.
4 Types of Alimony Payments
South Carolina has four different alimony payment types.
Rehabilitation alimony is for a limited amount of time. Rehabilitation is typically awarded to allow the receiving spouse the opportunity to earn a degree or attend vocational school.
Rehabilitation spousal support is standard when one person stayed home to raise children, and they no longer have the necessary skills or training to get a good-paying job. The court will order alimony for the amount of time it will take to get the skills needed to become financially independent.
This is the traditional form of alimony. One spouse is ordered to pay a certain amount of money to the other for a limited time. The court determines the amount of time and the monthly payment amount. Periodic Sum alimony usually ends when the receiving party remarries or dies. The period can also be determined as part of the divorce settlement.
Reimbursement is when one spouse is required to “reimburse” the other for lost time and opportunity. For example, A wife worked full time, so her husband could pursue an advanced degree. She gave up her opportunities so the husband could attain his goals. The court can award reimbursement alimony for the wife for the expenses incurred while he was in school.
Lump-Sum payments are relatively simple. At the time of the divorce settlement, one party pays the other an alimony settlement amount. This can be for any amount agreed upon during the divorce proceedings.
Other Alimony Facts
- Spousal support is possible even during a separation. A Greenville Divorce attorney can ask for a temporary orders hearing which asks for temporary relief while the divorce is pending.
- Payments can transfer to your estate if you die. Some types of alimony need to be paid until the obligation is ultimately settled. If you die, your ex-spouse can file a claim against your estate for the remaining money. This is why a will is so important.
- It’s easier to agree to terms during mediation. The last thing you want is for your divorce to go to trial. The judge might make a ruling that leaves both parties unsatisfied. A reasonable Greenville Divorce Lawyer can help the settlement process go smoothly for everyone involved.
Contact an Alimony Attorney Today
Regardless of your situation, an experienced attorney can be invaluable. Whether you are considering a divorce, or want to explore your alimony options, the Elliot Frazier Law Firm, LLC can help.
Contact us today for a case evaluation.