South Carolina Alimony Laws and Guidelines: All About Spousal Support in “SC”

The alimony laws governing spousal support in South Carolina is different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the SC alimony law.

Also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Palmetto State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.

Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.

This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.

All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.

Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in SC

types of alimony

Types of alimony in South Carolina

When a spouse requests alimony in South Carolina, the court has the authority to award any of the allowed 5 types of alimony listed below, each of which is meant to address distinct needs in different sorts of situations. Section 21-3-130(B).

Temporary alimony is commonplace during the divorce process when one spouse requires financial support whilst divorce is ongoing in the courts. (S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-120).

Periodic Alimony in South Carolina

The court in South Carolina may order a spouse to pay periodic support (typically monthly payments), which is intended to be temporary and only last as long as the assisted spouse requires assistance in becoming financially self-supporting.

Lump-Sum Alimony in SC

The court may order the paying spouse to make one full payment or parts over a period of time once the court sets the fixed amount of support, and it cannot be canceled or modified in the future except if the supported spouse dies.

Rehabilitative in South Carolina

Rehabilitative alimony is the most prevalent sort of support in SC. The goal of rehabilitative support is to provide financial assistance to the supported spouse while they attend education or learn new skills in order to return to the workforce.

The duration of support will be determined by the court, and the beneficiary will be required to show a good faith effort in obtaining the skills or education required to find work and become financially self-sufficient.

Reimbursement Alimony in SC

The goal of reimbursement alimony is to enable one spouse to reclaim money spent on the other’s career, education, or earning potential. The court may order reimbursement alimony as a way of repayment to the supporting spouse if one spouse worked full-time to help cover the other’s school tuition. The court may mandate a single payment or a series of payments over time.

Separate Support and Maintenance in South Carolina

An injunction for separate support and maintenance is much like “periodic alimony” (see above), except for being meant to provide “separate maintenance and support” in situations when the spouses are not pursuing a divorce right away but are living differently.

When a couple does not wish to divorce but is no longer living together in a marriage-like arrangement, the court may order separate maintenance and support.

Who Pays Alimony in South Carolina?

In South Carolina alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.

Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Palmetto State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.

So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in South Carolina if the above conditions are met.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in SC?

How Long To Pay Alimony

The judge will decide how long alimony payment should last in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the duration that one spouse must pay alimony to the other is determined by the sort of alimony award that the court makes. Here are several instances:

Temporary Alimony: Pendente lite alimony. The judge will stop temporary alimony when the divorce is finalized. A post-divorce award is not guaranteed by alimony pendente lite.

Periodic Alimony: Alimony that is paid on a regular basis. Payments stop when the supported spouse remarries, cohabitates with a new partner for an extended period of time, or dies. If either spouse shows a change in circumstances, the court may amend the award.

Lump-sum Alimony: Alimony is paid in one lump amount. When the paying spouse pays the full amount of alimony, it is called lump-sum alimony. If the supported spouse dies, the lump-sum support also ends. Regardless of a change in circumstances, the court cannot modify the order afterward.

Reimbursement Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony is a type of alimony that helps people get back on their If the supported spouse remarries or cohabitates, if either spouse dies, or if a certain event occurs in the future, rehabilitative alimony ends. For instance, if the supported spouse completes a degree program and finds work, the court may end assistance.

If the recipient’s situations change in the future, such as the beneficiary not going to school, unexpected job loss, or abrupt infirmity, either spouse might request a modification of support.

Separate Support and Maintenance: Alimony that is paid back. If the supported spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new loving relationship, or if one spouse dies, reimbursement alimony stops. Regardless of the situation, the court will not modify reimbursement alimony in the future.

How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in South Carolina

When it comes to collecting spousal support in South Carolina, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.

Factors Affecting Alimony Payment in South Carolina

The stand-out factor is that In South Carolina, the court will consider marital misconduct, particularly adultery while deciding on an alimony award. A spouse who commits adultery before the official signing of a documented property or marital settlement agreement or before a permanent order of separate maintenance and support is prohibited from receiving alimony in South Carolina.

The average amount payable as spousal support in South Carolina after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”

To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in SC, the courts in SC take into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:

  • earning capacity of each spouse.
  • the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
  • the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the needs of each spouse
  • the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
  • each party’s tax consequences
  • the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
  • each spouse’s health and age
  • each party’s balance of hardships
  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
  • will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • any other factors which the court wishes to consider

This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Palmetto State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.

How Alimony is Calculated in SC

How Alimony is Calculated

How Alimony is Calculated in South Carolina

The amount to be paid as spousal support in South Carolina is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator

But to be explicit about how to calculate spousal support in SC, you may need to consult your spousal support attorney.

>>> South Carolina Spousal Support Calculator

Importance of Using a Skilled South Carolina Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re getting a divorce in South Carolina and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support,
your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. SC courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.

If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in South Carolina, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of SC divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.

Click Here to Get our Free Iowa Alimony recommendation.

FAQ About South Carolina Alimony Laws

Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal support laws in SC:

Can a Husband get Alimony in SC?

Yes. In South Carolina, alimony payment is gender-neutral, meaning the sex that pays or receives is not the main determinant, but other factors as stated above. For details click here.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in South Carolina?

Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in SC, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details

How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in SC?

To understand how long alimony lasts in South Carolina, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.

However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.

Is Alimony Tax Deductible in South Carolina?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in South Carolina and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.

Is Alimony Mandatory in Palmetto State?

Alimony is mandatory in South Carolina as long as one of the spouses earns or owns assets that can be relied upon to support the other spouse after the marriage breaks down.

Can Alimony be increased in South Carolina?

Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:

  • an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
  • if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
  •  loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
  • an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
  • when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected

Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Support in SC?

Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in South Carolina. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.

If it’s a South Carolina court-ordered spousal support that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in SC}.

How to Modify Spousal Support in SC?

How to Avoid spousal support

How to Avoid spousal support in South Carolina

Depending on the type of alimony, and when necessary, the South Carolina statute allows for a spousal support modification. When it comes to alimony, courts in South Carolina usually try to do their best to create judgments that are fair and effective in the long run. Nevertheless, conditions change over time, and these changes may compel a revision or modification of the initial order.

When filing for a spousal support modification in SC, keep in mind that the courts will only entertain the motion if there has been a significant and long-term change in circumstances. A brief problem is unlikely to be significant enough to warrant a revision in the initial alimony ruling. Likewise, dissatisfaction with the support order is not a valid reason for a revision in South Carolina.

The following are some of the most common reasons for requesting an alimony modification in SC:

  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Relocation
  • Changes in income or employment
  • Birth of a new child
  • Health changes, including disability
  • A new dependent

How to Avoid or Stop Spousal Support in SC?

In Palmetto State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse proves that he has no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

Alimony Laws in all 50 States

A Alabama  |  AlaskaArizonaArkansas
C CaliforniaColoradoConnecticut
D-H DelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaii
I IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa
K-L KansasKentuckyLouisiana
M MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontana
NebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota
P-S  PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth Dakota
T-U  TennesseeTexasUtah
V-W  VermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.