Charleston Alimony/Spousal Support Attorney

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Charleston Alimony/Spousal Support Attorney

A divorce is one of the most stressful and traumatic experiences you can go through, especially if the process is contentious. Many factors can complicate a divorce, including the question: how will I make it financially?

South Carolina laws on alimony are complex and multi-factored.   Because of the complex laws involved in alimony/spousal support issues, an experienced attorney is essential to help you evaluate and fund your alimony claim. At Clore Law, Meg Horn and her team are ready to help you through this process.

Types of Alimony in South Carolina

The word “alimony” refers to spousal financial support that one spouse pays to the other. It can be paid during or after a divorce. Alimony is a court-ordered financial obligation, which means that if the payer fails to provide alimony, they can be held in contempt of court. 

Charleston, SC, courts may order several different types of alimony. These include:

  • Permanent periodic alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Lump-sum alimony 
  • Separate support and maintenance

Permanent periodic alimony is the most well-known type and is favored in South Carolina under our caselaw. It occurs in the form of monthly payments of a specified amount, and it tends to last until one of the parties dies or the recipient remarries. Often, the payer will provide this support for the rest of the recipient’s life. 

Reimbursement alimony involves one spouse reimbursing the other for certain expenses. If one spouse paid for the other’s education or skills training, for example, the court can order that money be paid back. Payments tend to be made monthly for a set amount of time. 

Another type of alimony is rehabilitative alimony. This involves one spouse paying the other while the latter completes their education or gets training that will allow them to become self-sufficient. If the recipient completes this requirement or remarries, this type of alimony generally ends. 

In some cases, a spouse may be ordered to pay a specific amount of alimony instead of a recurring payment. This is called lump-sum alimony. The court may require it to be paid all at once or in installments. 

If a couple separates but doesn’t divorce, a judge can order one of the spouses to pay the other maintenance expenses while they’re living separately. 

To ensure that your rights are respected during alimony decisions, turn to a spousal support attorney in Charleston, SC. Call us at Clore Law. 

How Does the Court Calculate Alimony in South Carolina?

Although there’s no simple formula that calculates how much alimony any spouse has to pay, certain factors can make a difference in the eyes of the court. 

The ‘duration of the marriage’ is a heavily weighted factor, so the longer a couple has been marriedthe more likely it is that alimony will be awarded. A court may also consider each spouse’s:

  • Physical and emotional circumstances
  • Earning potential and employment history
  • Educational background
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Custody of any children
  • Current and anticipated earnings 
  • Current and anticipated financial needs
  • Tax consequences
  • Marital and nonmarital properties
  • Prior marriage support obligations

It’s also crucial to understand that if there has been adultery before a either a full marital settlement is signed, or an order of divorce is entered,  South Carolina forbids granting alimony to the person at fault. Other types of marital misconduct may also play into alimony considerations. 

Get the help you need by contacting our alimony law firm at Clore Law. 

Instances When Alimony Can Be Modified

Most of the time, permanent alimony payments can be adjusted upward or downward based on a change in circumstances. 

For example, the court might reduce alimony if the recipient gains employment in a job that pays well or begins to receive significant income from another source. 

Conversely, suppose that the recipient needs medical care not covered by insurance and their ex-spouse can afford to pay more alimony. In that case, the court can increase the amount. 

Remember that if you’re the recipient of permanent, periodic alimony, and and you start living with someone else (‘cohabitating’) in a romantic relationship for more than 90 consecutive days, your alimony may be terminated. Termination of alimony is possible even if you separate every 90 days to try to circumvent this requirement. 

But what happens if you’re paying alimony and you want to retire? If you’re not working, you might find it impossible to pay the agreed alimony. South Carolina law addresses this issue by allowing you to request a hearing to see whether an adjustment in the alimony amount is warranted. The court will look at the following factors:

  • Whether retirement was considered when alimony was set
  • Whether retirement would diminish the supporting party’s income
  • The supporting spouse’s health
  • The supporting spouse’s age
  • Whether retirement is voluntary or mandatory

Family court still has a lot of discretion when it comes to this issue, so different judges may have different opinions. That’s why you want to have a lawyer for spousal support to help you. 

Alimony FAQs

Do I Have to Pay Alimony if My Ex-Spouse Becomes Self-Supporting?

There’s no clear answer because each case is different. It mainly depends on the type of alimony you pay. 

For example, you may have been ordered to pay rehabilitative alimony, which is typically granted to people who have been married for a long time or who need help to get skills or training to support themselves. In that case, you probably won’t have to continue paying alimony once your former spouse is self-sufficient. 

Alimony lawyers in Charleston, SC, can help.

Can the IRS Collect Taxes on Alimony Payments?

If you signed the alimony agreement before December 31, 2018, the person who pays alimony can deduct the payments from their taxes, while the recipient has to report the alimony as income. In that case, the IRS does collect taxes from alimony payments. 

The tax situation changed with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Alimony agreements after December 31, 2018, no longer allow the provider to deduct payments from their taxes, and the recipient no longer has to report alimony to the IRS as income. Your spousal support attorneys can help you better understand what this means for you. 

Does Adultery Affect Alimony Payments?

Yes, adultery is a significant issue with alimony payments in South Carolina. No alimony is granted to a spouse who committed adultery before the formal signing of a written marital or property agreement or before entering a permanent order of separate maintenance. 

What Are the Grounds for Terminating an Alimony Order?

Someone who is paying rehabilitative alimony, periodic alimony, or reimbursement alimony can have that alimony terminated if:

  • The other spouse dies
  • The provider of the alimony dies and their estate does not have an order to provide alimony
  • The recipient remarries or lives with someone for at least 90 consecutive days

Alimony based on separation ends when the spouses reconcile or divorce. A new alimony agreement can be set in place when the divorce is finalized. 

If you’re the spouse paying alimony, you should never stop paying without getting approval from the court, even if you have grounds for ending payments. 

Turning to Clore Law in Charleston, SC

Divorce can take a significant emotional and financial toll on you. To make sure that your rights are respected and that you get fair treatment by the family court, you need the right spousal support lawyers by your side. 

At Clore Law, we have years of experience helping the people of South Carolina with a variety of legal needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.