Understanding Alimony in South Carolina

When couples decide to divorce, there are a number of different issues that need to be resolved. One of the most common issues that may arise in a divorce settlement is the determination of alimony. Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is money paid from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce. Alimony was once a very common occurrence when only one spouse was the main breadwinner of the family. Alimony was necessary as a way to provide living expenses to the non-working partner.

Types of Alimony

There are various types of alimony available in South Carolina. These include:

  • Periodic Alimony;
  • Lump-Sum Alimony;
  • Rehabilitative Alimony;
  • Reimbursement Alimony; and
  • Separate Maintenance and Support.


The type of alimony, and the length of time it lasts, depends on many factors. Alimony may be paid directly to the spouse or in some situations; payment may be made through the family court for distribution. Generally, periodic payments, such as monthly, are more common than lump-sum payments.

When Is Alimony Necessary?

There are a number of different circumstances that may require the payment of alimony from one spouse to the other. When one party is not working, he or she may need time to receive training or education to reenter the workforce. For this situation, temporary alimony may be ordered as a way to provide living expenses for just the period of time necessary. When one partner worked and the other did not, the person who did not work is entitled to some type of alimony in order to continue living as they have been accustomed.

Factors Considered When Ordering Alimony

The judge will take many factors into consideration when deciding on alimony. These factors include such items as:

  • Length of the marriage;
  • Physical and emotional health of both parties;
  • Education and income of each spouse;
  • Earning potential and anticipated earnings of each party;
  • Expenses of both spouses;
  • Children and custody arrangements of minor children; and
  • Any marital misconduct/fault leading to divorce.


These factors will be reviewed before a determination is made. Some factors may be more heavily weighted than others.

Alimony Order

Once a decision is made, the judge orders alimony to be paid. The failure to pay alimony as specified in the order can cause legal action. Alimony is provided for the spouse and is separate from child support, which is to go towards the children’s expenses. The alimony order remains effective until the date specified. If permanent alimony is ordered, the spouse will continue to receive it until such time as he or she cohabitates with someone else, or remarries. Changes to alimony can only be made through the court system.

If you are seeking a divorce with alimony, or have questions regarding an order of alimony, call an experienced Greenville divorce lawyer at Greenville Family Law to discuss your case. Attorney Robert Clark is prepared to assist you today.


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