There is an ongoing dispute as to whether spousal support is a means to an end or if it should permanently equalize the standard of living between the former spouses. South Carolina law basically strikes a balance between these two theories. Both short-term and long-term alimony is available.

Most alimony matters settle out of court. So, a Greenville alimony attorney must be a good negotiator as well as a good litigator. Both obligors (people paying alimony) and obligees (people receiving alimony) need a strong voice in both these forums.

Amount of Alimony Payments

Overall, the amount of payments depends on the obligee’s financial need and the obligor’s ability to pay. To assist the judge in making this determination, the law sets forth a number of factors, including:

  • Length of the marriage,
  • Relative age and health of the spouses,
  • Noneconomic contributions to the marriage,
  • Custody of minor children,
  • Standard of living during the marriage, and
  • Agreements between the parties.

That last bullet point may be the most important one. Generally, Greenville County family law judges uphold agreements between the spouses, as long as they are not blatantly one-sided and each spouse had independent counsel throughout the proceeding.

In terms of making payments, a wage withholding order is usually in everyone’s best interests. Obligees normally do not need to worry about enforcement, and obligors have absolute proof of payment made.

Duration of Alimony Payments

The amount of payments considers both need and ability, but the duration of payments usually stresses the obligee’s financial need.

  • Periodic: These payments end at a certain date, which is often the date the divorce becomes final. Periodic alimony gives obligees extra money for divorce-related expenses, such as attorneys’ fees.
  • Lump Sum: In most states, spousal support is a matter of monthly obligations. But in South Carolina, spousal support is often a lump sum the judge uses to equalize the property distribution. Lump sum alimony could be paid in installments.
  • Rehabilitative: To become economically self-sufficient, some obligees must finish a degree or accept a low-paying job to re-enter the workforce. Rehabilitative alimony enables the obligee to better adjust to these life circumstances.
  • Reimbursement: This type of alimony is related to the aforementioned noneconomic contributions to the marriage. For example, if one spouse gave up career advancement to become a caregiver, she might be entitled to reimbursement alimony.

All these types of payments terminate if the obligee remarries or spends at least 90 days in a romantic relationship with another person. The court may also modify or terminate payments based on changed financial circumstances.

Spousal support in South Carolina usually involves some subjective determinations. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Greenville, SC Family Law Lawyer contact the Briggs Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.

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