What is the purpose of alimony?
The purpose of alimony is to help the supported spouse try and maintain the standard of living to which that person became accustomed during marriage. In deciding whether or not alimony is appropriate in any given case, the Court will balance 13 different factors.
Are there different types of alimony?
Yes, South Carolina has four basic types of alimony: periodic alimony, lump sum alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony. In addition, temporary alimony is often awarded while the litigation is pending in order to assist the dependent spouse in meeting their responsibilities while the case is pending.
What is Periodic Alimony?
Periodic alimony is paid at regular intervals, usually monthly or weekly, and continues until the death of either party, the remarriage or cohabitation for a period of 90 consecutive days of the party receiving alimony, or further order of the court based upon changed circumstances. Periodic alimony is most often awarded in cases where there is a significant difference between the earning powers of the parties and the marriage is of more than short duration. Periodic alimony is in most cases tax deductible to the payor spouse and taxable as income to the supported spouse. In addition, it is modifiable based upon changed circumstances in the future.
What is Lump Sum Alimony?
Lump sum alimony is a finite total sum, payable either in a single payment, or periodically over a period of time. It terminates upon payment in full of the total sum, or the death of the supported spouse. It is not terminable nor modifiable for any other reasons, including changed circumstances in the future. Lump sum alimony is seldom awarded by the Court, but is often agreed to by the parties in settlement as a compromise between periodic alimony and no alimony. Depending upon the duration of the lump sum alimony payments and other factors, lump sum alimony may or may not be tax deductible to the payor spouse and taxable as income to the supported spouse.
What is Rehabilitative Alimony?
Rehabilitative alimony is seldom awarded by the Court, but may be appropriate in settlement to allow the supported spouse to obtain additional training or education in order to become self-supporting and/or less dependent on the need for alimony. It is payable either in a lump sum or over a fixed period of time. Depending upon the duration of the rehabilitative alimony payments and other factors, rehabilitative alimony may or may not be tax deductible to the payor spouse and taxable as income to the supported spouse.
What is Reimbursement Alimony?
Reimbursement alimony is awarded in rare cases to reimburse a spouse from the future earnings of the other spouse. An example might be where one party made a substantial contribution to the marriage and the other party does not have the present ability to repay that contribution.
What are the factors a court must consider in deciding whether or not to award alimony?
In making an award of alimony the family court is required to consider 13 factors:
- Ages of the parties and length of marriage
- Physical and emotional condition of the parties
- Education and need for training
- Current earnings
- Employment history and earning potential
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Expenses of the parties
- Marital and nonmarital property of the parties
- Child custody
- Marital misconduct
- Tax consequences
- Prior support obligations
- Other relevant factors
Does adultery effect alimony?
Unlike most other states, in South Carolina, adultery is a statutory bar to an award of alimony, including temporary alimony. If alimony is awarded on a temporary basis and the supported spouse subsequently commits adultery during the pendency of the action, the supported spouse will be required to pay back the alimony received after their commission of adultery.