Is Spousal Support appropriate in my case?

During any divorce or separation of a marriage there is frequently a question of whether one spouse or the other is entitled to receive spousal support or alimony from the other. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors and is in the complete discretion of the trial judge. The Court of Appeals in South Carolina has determined that:

Alimony is a substitute for the support which is normally incident to the marital relationship.” Lide v. Lide, 277 S.C. 155 S.E. 2d 832 (1981). Ordinarily, the purpose of alimony is to place the supported spouse, as nearly as is practical, in the position of support she [he] enjoyed during the marriage. See Voelker v. Hillock, 288 S.C. 622, 344 S.E.2d 177 (Ct. App. 1986).

Section 20-3-130, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976 defines six types of spousal support than may be awarded by the family court: (1) periodic alimony; (2) lump sum alimony; (3) rehabilitative alimony; (4) reimbursement alimony; (5) separate maintenance and support; (6) such other form of spousal support, as the court determines just and appropriate under the circumstances. Lump sum and rehabilitative alimony awards are not favored and may require special circumstances to justify departing from the normal preferred permanent, periodic alimony or if done by informed consent of the parties.

Factors for the trial court to consider in awarding alimony were established by the Supreme Court as follows[1]:

(1)               Financial condition of the parties;

(2)               Needs of the party seeking alimony;

(3)               Age and health of the parties;

(4)               Respective earning capacities and individual wealth;

(5)               Contributions to the accumulation of their joint wealth;

(6)               Conduct of the parties;

(7)               Standard of living of the parties at the time of the divorce;

(8)               Duration of the marriage

(9)               Ability to pay alimony; and

(10)              Their actual incomes;

Other South Carolina case law added the following additional factors for consideration:

(11)               Special circumstances that might justify some other form of alimony;

(12)                 Tax consequences;

(13)                 The Equitable distribution award.

Alimony or spousal support must be requested in the pleadings when a complaint for Divorce and/or Separate Support and Maintenance is filed with the court. Do not enter into a binding agreement without knowing your legal rights. If you are going through a divorce or considering a divorce or separation, consult with an attorney to learn your rights as it relates to alimony and spousal support.


[1] Id. Lide v. Lide, 277 S.C. 155, 283 S.E.2d 832 (1981).

Posted on June 21, 2017 and filed under Divorce.