Spousal Support: How Does it Work in South Carolina?

If you’re looking to get divorced, you may be worried about spousal support. If you’re the one looking to receive alimony, you want your Greenville divorce lawyer to get you as much as possible, for as long as possible. If, on the other hand, you expect to have to pay alimony, you’ll want to keep that number low. We understand which position you’re coming from and will do our best to get you the best possible outcome.

Not Everybody is Entitled to Spousal Support

Just because you were married for a few years, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to spousal support. Every case is unique. Whether you receive alimony will depend on a number of factors. Some of these include:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The educational degrees held by each party
  • The income of each party at the time of the divorce
  • The living situation of each spouse
  • The living standard of the couple before and after the divorce
  • The goal is to make sure one spouse doesn’t walk away from the marriage in great shape while the other can’t afford to pay their bills.

Do You Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

If you and your spouse had a pre-nuptial agreement, it will trump when it comes to alimony. As long as your spouse can’t prove that the agreement was signed under duress, it should be upheld in court. For example, your prenuptial agreement may indicate that neither spouse will be entitled to spousal support. This should be honored by the family judge. Of course, your future ex-spouse will argue that you had no idea what the future held and that you never would’ve wanted them to go without should you get divorced. Our Greenville divorce lawyers will fight to make sure your agreement is upheld. Otherwise, what is the point of signing a prenuptial agreement in the first place?

There are 4 Types of Spousal Support in South Carolina

South Carolina is a little different from other states. Typically, there are only a couple types of spousal support. In South Carolina, however, there are four types. These are as follows:

  • Permanent Periodic Alimony – Under this arrangement, you will pay your ex-spouse a certain amount of money every month (or week). The amount will not change over time. These payments will continue until either party dies. Or it can be terminated if the alimony recipient gets remarries or chooses to live with somebody.
  • Rehabilitative Spousal Support – Under this system, your ex-spouse is only entitled to alimony until their financial position has improved. Usually, the judge will assign a deadline for this type of alimony. For example, if your wife had never worked outside the home, you may be ordered to pay alimony until she has gone back to school and obtained her degree. Or your agreement may stipulate that you will pay alimony for a few years until your ex-wife has had a chance to find a decent, full-time job.
  • Reimbursement Alimony – If your spouse supported you while you built up your career or business, they will be entitled to reimbursement alimony. This is meant to compensate one spouse who gave their time, money, and resources to the other spouse in support of their career. This was usually done in lieu of the spouse focusing on their own career. When the couple divorces, the career laden spouse will be ordered to pay spousal support to the other spouse until they have reimbursed them fully.
  • Lump Sum Payment – Rather than have payments drag out for years on end, some couples agree to a one-time, lump sum payment. The amount can be determined by the two parties, or they can let a mediator help them decide.

If you’re wondering how long you can collect alimony, the general rule is that you deserve one year of alimony for every 3 years you were married. So, if you were married for 21 years, you would be entitled to about 7 years of alimony. Conversely, if you were only married for 3 years, you would only be entitled to 1 year of alimony.

The type of alimony in your divorce case will defend on a few things. You may have agreed to a certain type of alimony in your prenuptial agreement. Or your marital settlement agreement may have specified which of the above types would apply in your divorce. Then there are the rare occasions in which the judge had to order spousal support in one form over another. The same is true for the amount you agree upon.

Alimony Ends with Death, Cohabitation, or Remarriage

Unless otherwise specified in your divorce decree, spousal support will terminate upon one of three things. If your spouse passes away, your alimony obligation will end. The same is true if you happen to die first.

The second condition upon which alimony will end is remarriage. If your spouse decides to get remarried, you will no longer be obligated to pay spousal support. In many counties, the same thing is true for cohabitation. If your ex-spouse chooses to move in with a new paramour, they will surrender their rights to alimony. Things get tricky if their relationship doesn’t work out.

If you were able to convince a judge to terminate spousal support, your ex will file a motion to reinstate these benefits. Your divorce lawyer in Greenville will fight this motion. Nobody should get to gamble with alimony until they find the right partner. Not only is it patently unfair, but the court doesn’t like it when people flip-flop like that in the courtroom.

Your Greenville Divorce Lawyer Will Get You the Best Possible Outcome

If you’re going through a divorce are wondering how alimony will work out, worry no more. Your Greenville divorce lawyer will fight to get you the best possible outcome. If you’re looking to receive alimony, they’ll see to it that you get your fair share. If, on the other hand, you are expecting to pay spousal support, we’ll make sure you aren’t ordered to pay a dollar more than what it necessary. Our divorce lawyers in Greenville have handed hundreds of cases involving spousal support over the years. We understand how the courts work. We also know how to negotiate a fair agreement with your spouse’s divorce attorney.

If you’re worried about what may happen in your final divorce decree, give us a call. If you are trying to handle things on your own, you may need to reconsider that. Spending a few thousand dollars now for a seasoned Greenville divorce lawyer could save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

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