How Long Is Alimony Paid In A Charleston Divorce?

Alimony can last a lifetime or as short as one month. Many events can shorten the duration of alimony after it is awarded as part of your Charleston, SC divorce.

You could be required to pay alimony for a relatively short period of time or for the rest of the life of your former spouse. The duration of the alimony will depend on the type of alimony awarded, the discretion of your Charleston divorce judge, and any significant change in circumstances that occurs after your judge enters the alimony order in your Charleston divorce case.

1. Permanent Periodic Alimony

If your Charleston divorce judge awards permanent periodic alimony to your spouse, you will have to pay alimony until: (a) you die; (b) your former spouse dies; (c) your former spouse remarries; (d) your former spouse cohabitates for a period of more than 90 days with a member of the opposite sex; or (e) your Charleston divorce judge enters an order terminating alimony upon a substantial change in circumstances. Since this form of SC alimony is permanent and could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, you should hire a Charleston alimony attorney to represent you in your divorce case. [For more specific information on each of the types of alimony mentioned here, please read my article regarding the six types of alimony in a Charleston divorce.]

2. Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony does not last for the life of the supported spouse. As part of your Charleston divorce or legal separation case, your family law judge may order that rehabilitative alimony shall be paid for a certain number of years or even months to allow your former spouse sufficient time to become self-supporting.

Rehabilitative alimony could also terminate after your Charleston divorce if a specific event occurs. For example, you and your spouse could stipulate as part of your divorce settlement agreement that the rehabilitation alimony will end when the supported spouse obtains employment with income of a certain amount.

This type of SC spousal support can be extended for an additional period of time if an unforeseen occurrence frustrates the good faith efforts of the supported spouse to become self-supporting. Likewise, the period for payment of rehabilitative alimony can be shortened if an unexpected occurrence affects the ability of the paying spouse to make the alimony payments.

Rehabilitative alimony will terminate in Charleston if the supported spouse dies, remarries, or cohabitates for 90 days or longer. Rehabilitative alimony will also stop if the paying spouse dies.

If you want to extend or terminate rehabilitative alimony due to unforeseen circumstances, you should hire a knowledgeable alimony attorney in Charleston. Your success in proving or defeating an argument that an event was “unforeseen” may hinge on the skill of your Charleston alimony lawyer.

3. Reimbursement Alimony

Reimbursement alimony is typically paid for a period sufficient to reimburse the supported spouse for the loss of a better life. Reimbursement alimony will end: (a) when the full amount of alimony is paid; or (b) for one of the reasons set forth above for permanent periodic alimony.

4. Lump Sum Alimony

Lump sum alimony requires the payment of a specific amount of dollars, such as $100,000. The lump sum can be paid in one payment or a series of payments over a relatively short period of time. Lump sum spousal support cannot be terminated or modified for any reason, except the death of the supported spouse. This is the only form of SC alimony which does not terminate upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the supported spouse.

5. Separate Maintenance and Support

Alimony can also be awarded for the period during which you are separated from your spouse and waiting to file for a no-fault divorce. This form of alimony is often called “separate maintenance and support.” This type of SC alimony continues until further order of the Court, cohabitation for more than 90 days by the supported spouse, or the death of either party.

6. Other Significant Considerations Affect How Alimony Will Be Paid

  • Non-Modifiable Alimony. The South Carolina alimony law permits your Charleston divorce judge to prohibit modification of the amount of alimony to be paid or the period for which it will be paid. Likewise, you and your spouse can enter into a settlement agreement by which you jointly agree that the amount and duration of the alimony cannot be changed subsequently.
  • Termination of Alimony by Agreement of the Parties. If you and your spouse agree to terminate alimony for any reason, your Charleston divorce judge will probably agree to it. This situation could arise under many different circumstances. For example, the paying spouse could agree to make a significant payment or series of payments for a shorter period of time in exchange for being released from an obligation to pay a greater total amount of alimony over a longer period of time.
  • Alimony Claim Against an Estate. If you die without having paid the full amount that you owed for lump sum alimony, your surviving former spouse can make a claim against your estate for the amount of unpaid alimony.
  • Alimony Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy. Your duty to pay alimony cannot be terminated by filing for bankruptcy.


As an experienced divorce and alimony attorney in Charleston, SC,I can answer your Charleston divorce and legal separation questions.To speak directly with me, please call me now at 843-631-7117.

Alternatively, please use the contact form to ask me any questions that you may have regarding your Charleston divorce or legal separation case. I will be quick to respond.  You can be sure that I will keep strictly confidential anything that you write to me.

Working together, we will protect your rights and build a better future for you in Awendaw, Charleston, Daniel Island, Goose Creek, Isle of Palms, James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, Summerville, or West Ashley.