Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is an extremely important issue in many divorce cases. It is important for a potential alimony payor to reduce his or her exposure to paying alimony, especially “permanent, periodic” alimony, which can be paid for many years, and even decades. Conversely, it is very important for a potential alimony payee to maximize his or her alimony claim, in order to secure the most financial security attainable, for the longest possible duration.
Alimony is “intended to be a substitute for the support that was incident to a marriage.” Alimony is premised, at least in part, on the notion that a marriage is, among other things, an economic partnership, and that upon the dissolution of the partnership, it would be unfair for one “partner” to live the same lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage, and the other to live in a less financially stable lifestyle. For example, where a husband and wife have been married for decades, during which the wife did not work outside the home, and the parties enjoyed an affluent lifestyle, a family court likely will award the wife alimony so that she may enjoy a standard of living similar to the one she enjoyed during the marriage.
The above example is an easy alimony analysis. In a contested case, the Court is mandated by statute to consider thirteen factors, reprinted below. The thirteenth factor is really a “catch-all,” allowing the Court to consider any information it deems relevant on the issue of alimony. In South Carolina family law practice, the duration of the marriage, the relative income and earning potentials of each party, and any fault that contributed to the breakup of the marriage often are considered as the most important factors to consider in the alimony analysis. However, this is not always the case, and specific factors (e.g. non-marital property of one spouse), may dictate a different result.
In South Carolina, a spouse who commits adultery generally is barred from receiving alimony; however, there are exceptions to this rule.
It is crucial that your attorney has both a detailed understanding of the facts of the marriage, and a comprehensive understanding of the statutory alimony factors, and their interpretation and application by South Carolina trial and appellate courts. Mr. Prenner focuses his practice primarily in family law, and demonstrates a commitment in each case to understanding the detailed facts of the marriage, and to advocacy on behalf of his client’s needs, and in pursuit of their goals. Please schedule a consultation to discuss alimony or spousal support with Mr. Prenner, by calling (843) 722-7250.
The Alimony factors contained in S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130.
(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;
(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;
(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;
(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;
(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;
(8) the marital and nonmarital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;
(9) custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;
(10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;
(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;
(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and
(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.