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Can You Ask for Alimony After Divorce in South Carolina?

how long after a divorce can you ask for alimony

Ending a marriage is a difficult transition. Many couples rely on one another’s income to maintain their lifestyle. When that income source goes away, it can create financial hardship. Alimony offers a way for an ex-spouse to continue receiving financial support for a period of time after divorce. But there are limits on when and how you can request alimony.

Generally, you can not request alimony payments for the first time after the divorce has been finalized. However, you may request modifications to the initial order if you can prove a significant change in circumstances.

At Steele Family Law, we understand the legal and emotional factors surrounding alimony. We have extensive experience guiding clients through this process in South Carolina. There are specifics you need to know about the alimony laws in this state. Timing is crucial. We can help you make informed decisions to get the financial assistance you need during and after your divorce.

South Carolina Recognizes Different Types of Alimony

South Carolina divorce law provides for different forms of alimony that serve various purposes:

  • Permanent periodic alimony – Ongoing support for an indefinite period
  • Rehabilitative alimony – Temporary assistance to become self-supporting
  • Reimbursement alimony – Compensates for supporting spouse during education
  • Lump sum alimony – One-time payment

The type and duration of alimony depend on factors like the length of the marriage, the finances of each spouse, and more. The court has discretion in awarding alimony based on the facts of each case.

Factors Judges Consider When Awarding Alimony

South Carolina judges look at various factors when deciding alimony awards, including:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living established during marriage
  • Age, health, education, and earnings potential of each spouse
  • Financial resources and marital assets of each spouse
  • Custodial and child support responsibilities
  • The ability of the paying spouse to afford alimony
  • Contributions to education or earning potential of the supported spouse

Understanding these factors can help in requesting a fair and reasonable alimony award.

How Long Do Alimony Payments Last in South Carolina?

The duration of alimony depends on the purpose and type of alimony the court awards:

  • Permanent periodic alimony generally continues until the supported spouse dies or remarries. This provides ongoing income for an indefinite period.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help the receiving spouse become self-supporting by a specific time. It lasts for a set period while the spouse gains education or training to re-enter the workforce.
  • Reimbursement alimony repays the spouse for supporting the other during an educational or training program. It may be ordered for a definite time period.
  • Lump sum alimony is a one-time payment in one or several installments. Once paid, this type of alimony does not continue.

For any form of alimony, changed financial circumstances could result in a modification order by the court. Either party can file a motion requesting the alimony amount be raised, lowered, or terminated if they can show a substantial change in circumstances since the divorce.

Proving Eligibility for Alimony in South Carolina

To be awarded alimony in a divorce, you will need to show:

  • A financial need for assistance and support from your spouse based on the standard of living established during marriage
  • That your spouse has the ability to pay alimony based on assets, income, and earning capacity
  • That the marriage lasted long enough to be considered a significant investment of time, often 10 years or more
  • That age, health issues, custody of children, or unemployment prevent you from being self-supporting
  • That you contributed during the marriage in tangible ways, such as helping your spouse achieve an education, training, or career advancement.

Documenting these factors requires organizing tax returns, financial statements, career histories, medical records, and any other evidence needed to demonstrate your eligibility and reasonable need for alimony. An attorney can help you gather and present this documentation effectively.

Timing is Critical For Requesting Alimony in SC

In most cases, alimony needs to be addressed as part of the divorce proceedings. Here are some key timing considerations:

  • Request temporary alimony when you first file for divorce to help with expenses during the process.
  • Seek a determination of permanent alimony before the divorce decree is finalized. If alimony is not addressed in the final decree, your options become limited.
  • An existing alimony order can be modified at any time if you can show a substantial change in circumstances. For example, changes in the income or retirement status of either spouse.
  • Consult with an experienced divorce attorney to understand time sensitivities and eligibility for alimony in your situation. Acting promptly is key.

Because timing is so important for alimony, it is wise to consult with a divorce lawyer early about your options. We can help develop a strategy around requesting temporary support, documenting financial status, and clearly presenting the basis for a reasonable permanent alimony award.

With upfront planning, we can position you for a favorable possible outcome on alimony determinations in the divorce proceedings.

Steele Family Law Can Guide You Through the Alimony Process

Going through a divorce and determining alimony can be complex and emotional. But you do not have to handle it alone. The experienced South Carolina divorce attorneys at Steele Family Law are here to support and counsel you each step of the way.

Contact us when you are considering or planning a divorce to discuss your situation. We will help you understand your options so you can make informed decisions. And we will aggressively represent your interests so you can gain the financial support you need during and after your divorce. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.

Author Bio

Greg Steele is CEO and Managing Partner of Steele Family Law, a South Carolina estate planning and family law firm. With years of experience in practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody and support, estate planning, probate, and other legal cases.

Greg received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia and is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40 in 2022.

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