Alimony In South Carolina, Understanding How Judges Award And Calculate

Gavel and wedding rings on block

Alimony is a payment ordered by the court from one spouse to the other during and after the divorce is final. In many cases the spouses think their financial obligation to the spouse ends with the divorce. This is not always the case in South Carolina.

Different Types of Alimony in South Carolina

When a spouse requests alimony in South Carolina, the court has the discretion to make an appropriate alimony order, considering the circumstances of the couple. South Carolina alimony law allows for the following types:

Alimony Pendente Lite – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-120)

Temporary alimony or “pendente lite,” is alimony paid during the divorce process. It is common for one spouse to need financial assistance and support while the going thru the divorce process.

Periodic Alimony – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(1).)

This is when the court orders a spouse to pay support periodically usually in the form of monthly payments. This is meant to be short term and lasts long enough for the supported spouse to become financially independent.

Lump Sum Alimony – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(2).)

Once the set amount of support is determined by the court, the judge may order the spouse paying support to pay installments over a short period or to make one full payment.

Rehabilitative Alimony – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(3).)

The purpose behind rehabilitative support is for the spouse receiving this support to have financial support while attending school or acquiring new job skills so that they can reenter the work force. This is the most common type of alimony where the court will determine the duration of support and it requires the recipient to demonstrate a good faith effort in gaining the education or new skills necessary to find employment to become financially independent.

Reimbursement Alimony – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(4).)

Reimbursement alimony allows the spouse to recoup the money that was spent on the other spouse’s earning abilities, education, or career. An example is when one spouse worked full-time to help pay for the other spouse’s college or professional education, the judge may order reimbursement alimony to repay the supporting spouse. The judge may order payments in the form of a few payments over time or one lump sum payment.

Separate Maintenance – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(5).)

This is when the court orders separate maintenance and support when the couple doesn’t want to file for divorce, but is no longer living together or cohabitating in a marriage like relationship under the same roof.

Alimony and Cohabitation – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (B)(6).)

In South Carolina cohabitation is defined as the supported spouse residing with another person in a romantic relationship for at least 90 consecutive days. The spouse that pays can request a review of periodic, rehabilitative, or reimbursement alimony if cohabitation is an issue.

Calculating Alimony in South Carolina – (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (C).)

  • The ages of each spouse at the time of the marriage and the time of the divorce
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • The educational background of both spouse’s along with the need for additional training or education to achieve the spouse’s income potential
  • The employment history and earning potential of each spouse
  • The marital standard of living
  • The current and anticipated expenses and needs of each spouse
  • The current and anticipated earnings of each spouse
  • The marital and nonmarital property awards to each spouse during the divorce
  • Whether either spouse is the custodial parent to a child whose condition makes it difficult for the parent to seek work outside of the home or full-time work
  • Marital misconduct or fault
  • Tax consequences to each spouse
  • Whether either spouse is court ordered to support another spouse or child
  • Other factors the court deems relevant

We, at Templeton, Mims, and Ward, can assist you with this understanding this process. Contact us today at (843) 891-6100 or to arrange a consultation at our offices in Summerville, SC.


Length Of Alimony And Can It Be Changed

The duration of your alimony depends on the type of support ordered by the court

Alimony Pendente Lite

This temporary alimony ends when the judge finalizes the divorce, and it doesn’t guarantee a post-divorce award.

Periodic Alimony

The payments terminate when the supported spouse cohabitates with a new partner, remarries, or upon the death of either spouse. The court can modify this award later if either spouse demonstrates a change in circumstances.

Lump-Sum Alimony

This alimony terminates once the paying spouse pays the full amount or if the supported spouse dies. This award may not be modified by the court later regardless of a change of circumstances.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This award terminates if the supported spouse cohabitates or remarries, if either spouse dies, or upon the occurrence of a specific event in the future, such as, the court may terminate support once the supported spouse finishes their education and finds employment. Either spouse can request modification of support if there’s a change in circumstances, such as the recipient not attending school, loss of a job, or some sort of disability.

Reimbursement Alimony

This type of alimony ends if the supported spouse cohabitates or remarries, or if either spouse dies. Reimbursement alimony cannot be modified at a future date, no matter what the circumstances.

Separate Maintenance

This is a periodic payment that terminates if the couple divorces, either spouse dies, or if the supported spouse cohabitates with a new partner. Either spouse can request a modification to the award in the future if there’s any change in the circumstances.

Enforcing Alimony In South Carolina

You can ask a judge for assistance if your spouse isn’t paying alimony as required by the court order. Failure to pay alimony is serious, and if found guilty of failing to pay, a judge can force compliance by including a income withholding order, fines, or a jail sentence.

As you can see, divorce and alimony can be very involved, sorted, and confusing. This is why you need the help and assistance of an experienced attorney and law firm to help you sort it all out and get the best outcome for your case no matter which side of the alimony conundrum you’re on. At Templeton, Mims, And Ward, we have the knowledge and experience to help you get the best possible outcome for your case and hearings. Our offices are located in Summerville, South Carolina, but we represent clients throughout the Low Country, including Charleston County, Berkeley County, Dorchester County, Calhoun County, Colleton County, Beaufort County, Georgetown County, and Orangeburg County, including communities such as Charleston, Summerville, Daniel Island, Folly Beach, Mount Pleasant, Moncks Corner, Beaufort, Hannahan, Goose Creek, St. George, Walterboro, and North Charleston, SC. Contact us at (843) 891-6100 or for a consultation today.

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