Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Alimony in South Carolina Divorce

Alimony is a substitute, money usually, for the support which is normally incident to marriage. There are several purposes and kinds of alimony, though they are most commonly to enable the parties to continue to enjoy the standard of marriage that they enjoyed during the marriage and in the form of periodic and permanent payments from one spouse to the other.

The money may be justified relating to a spouse's loss in standard of living, loss of earnings due to child care or care of third parties, and investment in other spouse's earning capacity. Alimony may also be ordered to punish marital misconduct.

I routinely request separate support and maintenance and alimony on behalf of clients in divorce matters. Certain rights may be waived if legal requirements are not met, and alimony may be waived or a claim thereto barred.

There are many general types of alimony, including: (1) lump sum alimony (you guessed it, in a lump sum payment); (2) rehabilitative (in order to train or educate the spouse to increase earning ability and the like); and (3) reimbursement alimony (for some contribution by a spouse). The most common type of alimony ordered by Judges may be permanent, periodic alimony.

Termination of alimony payments may expire upon the terms of the court order, being that a single lump sum payment be made, payments be made for a certain period of time and/or in a certain amount, or that something occur in lieu of alimony. Naturally, they expire upon the death of a party. Remarriage will also terminate alimony payments. And so will other changes in the circumstances.

Some of the factors that a Court may consider in determining the type and amount of alimony include: (1) the duration of the marriage; (2) the standard of living during the marriage; (3) if there is any marital misconduct or fault in the marriage (*see a previous blog post on the Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina); (4) employment history, education, earnings, and property of the parties; (5) custody arrangement; (6) tax consequences; and (7) other relevant factors.

It appears that adultery is sometimes an absolute bar to separate support and maintenance or alimony, so parties suspecting their spouse of adultery sometimes pursue proof of adultery. Adultery generally requires that the party seeking to prove the adultery show opportunity and inclination. Hiring a private investigator is often a good idea, and your family law divorce attorney will likely be able to refer you to one or more private investigators with whom you can consult and retain to do an investigation.

All of the information on this blog is very general information that cannot be relied upon as legal advice in your very factual specific situation. If you have questions regarding alimony, proving adultery, divorce, and related matters, please feel free to contact my office to schedule a free consultation with either Zach Naert or Joe DuBois, both of whom practice family and domestic law in Beaufort and Jasper Counties, South Carolina.