One of the more frequently asked questions in a South Carolina divorce is: How do you calculate alimony?
The answer is that South Carolina does not have a formula or specific mathematical guidelines to determine the amount of alimony that must be paid. Instead, your divorce judge will review the South Carolina alimony law and the specific facts in your divorce case.
Your judge will first want the divorce attorneys to answer four key questions:
(1) Does your spouse or you need alimony?
(2) If the answer is “yes,” why is alimony needed?
(3) Can your spouse or you afford to pay alimony without undue hardship?
(4) Is this a fault-based divorce?
If the judge decides to award alimony after hearing the answers to those questions, the amount of alimony to be paid will be based primarily on the answers to the following questions:
(a) How long have you been married?
(b) How old were you when you married?
(c) How old will you be when you get divorced?
(d) How much education and training do your spouse and you have?
(e) Does either of you need additional education or training to reach your income potential?
(f) Are both of you physically able to work without a health limitation?
(g) Does one of you suffer from an emotional condition that limits the ability to work?
(h) When, where, and for how long have each of you been employed or unemployed?
(i) How much is each of you earning now?
(j) How much could each of you earn if you were fully employed?
(k) What are your respective living expenses?
(l) What property will each of you have after you are divorced?
(m) Who will have custody of your children?
(n) How much child visitation time will the non-custodial parent have with your children?
(o) Do any of your children have a condition that will limit the ability of either of parent to work?
(p) Did marital misconduct (such as adultery) cause your divorce?
(q) What might be the tax consequences for each of you if a particular type of alimony is ordered?
Success in obtaining alimony or opposing an award of alimony is more of an “art” than a “science.” Your divorce judge has discretion to decide whether to award alimony and how much to award. The judge’s decision can cost you thousands of dollars for many years. The amount of alimony awarded (or not awarded) can truly be a life changing event. Consequently, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina divorce lawyer regarding the potential significance of alimony in your divorce.
If you live in Charleston, Goose Creek, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, West Ashley, or another Low Country community, please call me now. I will be glad to answer any other questions that you may have concerning the award of alimony in a South Carolina divorce.