Divorce is one of the most difficult events that you’ll go through in your life. When you get married you don’t plan on getting divorced. So, when divorce happens it can be devastating. You’re overwhelmed with splitting up a life that you once shared with someone else.
Having an expert Charleston, SC divorce lawyer can help you through the process. Most parties of a divorce don’t have any knowledge of alimony, also known as spousal support. How do you determine who gets alimony, and how much are they eligible to receive?
These are questions that Charleston divorce lawyer Lauren Taylor wants to help you answer. When going through a divorce you need a lawyer that is going to represent your interests. Contact us today to discuss the details of your divorce.
What is alimony?
Some people confuse alimony with child support, but they are completely different types of financial support. Alimony was created to protect a supported spouse in a divorce or separation. For example, if one spouse wasn’t working throughout the marriage, they could be eligible for alimony. In many cases, a spouse will choose to stay home to help raise children and domestically support the family.
Oftentimes, the spouse that stays home has sacrificed their career or schooling to take care of the family. In these cases, a divorce can leave the financially weaker spouse in a state of ruin. They no longer have that financial support system, and they will be starting their life over again.
Throughout your marriage, you have determined your quality of life through a budget based on your finances. There are two adults that share all expenses, but how will you support yourself if you have been financially dependent on your spouse?
We want to help you secure the alimony that you need to support yourself and your children. We also want to ensure that if you’re paying alimony, you’re not overpaying your spouse. You could be required to pay an amount that leaves you in a financial bind. It’s important to have the right legal representation to help you throughout your case.
How do courts determine how much alimony to be awarded?
During a divorce, it will be up to both parties to come up with an appropriate amount of alimony. Also, these parties will also have to determine the length of time that alimony will be paid. If the spouses can’t agree on a sum, then it will be up to the court to decide.
We recommend trying mediation before seeing a judge because court costs can be extensive. If you do let a judge decide your alimony, you will have to sit through a trial. Judges will look over a variety of information to determine what your alimony should be, like:
- Financial needs of the person requesting alimony
- The ability of the payor to pay
- The lifestyle that each spouse was accustomed to while they were married
- The earning potential of each spouse
- How long the marriage lasted
These are a few of the many criteria that the judge will consider before deciding on an amount for alimony. For example, if spouses have been married for 10 years, there will be more of a financial obligation than a couple that was married for 3 years. Also, if a spouse is educated and can get back out into the workforce, their alimony might be for a shorter amount of time. Ultimately, courts want to make sure that divorce isn’t going to cause a spouse to default on their financial responsibilities. Divorce shouldn’t leave a spouse with the inability to pay their monthly bills, like: their mortgage, car note, or credit card debt.
How does the payment of alimony work?
If there is a judgment for alimony, the party required to pay will have to make a monthly payment. The purpose of alimony is to give the financially weaker spouse a chance to get back on their feet. In South Carolina, there are cases that alimony does go on forever. In fact, there are cases where the responsible party can stop paying alimony early. Some of these instances include:
- The spouse receiving alimony remarries
- Children of the marriage reach adulthood
- A court decides that alimony has been provided for a reasonable amount of time and the spouse on alimony hasn’t made an effort to provide for themselves financially
- The responsible party retires, which can result in a modified alimony payment
- Either of the involved parties become deceased
What types of alimony are available in South Carolina?
Each state is different when it comes to alimony, and in South Carolina, there are 4 different types:
Lump Sum: The spouse decides to pay the amount of alimony with a single payment, instead of paying monthly. So, the day that the divorce decree is signed, the spouse will pay the lump sum for alimony.
Reimbursement: Describing a hypothetical scenario is the best way to describe this type of alimony payment. If a wife worked to put her husband through college, the court might order the husband to pay an “opportunity cost”. The husband is responsible for paying the wife back for everything she sacrificed while putting him through school.
Periodic Sum: This is the type of alimony payments that most people think about. The person responsible for paying alimony will pay monthly until they are no longer obligated by the court.
Rehabilitation: This is a temporary type of alimony that is used to increase the weaker spouse’s earning potential. This can be used to help the spouse go back to school or get vocational training.
What happens if my spouse refuses to pay alimony?
Alimony isn’t a request, it is ordered by the court. If you have been ordered to pay alimony, then you are responsible for that monthly payment. So, if alimony payments aren’t being issued, legal action can be taken.
A spouse refusing to pay alimony can find themselves sitting in jail. Whether you need help determining your alimony situation, or you need to enforce alimony payments, we can help! Contact Lauren Taylor Law today to discuss your options.