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Divorcing as a Non-working Spouse? Here’s What Financial Support You Can Get

what is a nonworking spouse entitled to in a divorce

Going through a divorce when you don’t work outside the home or have minimal income can be scary. You may worry about how you’ll provide for yourself and your kids without your former spouse’s income. But don’t panic — you still have legal rights.

As a non-working spouse in South Carolina, you may be entitled to spousal support (alimony), child support, a share of marital property, and other benefits, depending on your situation. Read on for a breakdown of what support you could receive and how it’s determined.

Spousal Support – Some Extra Cash Each Month

Spousal support, or alimony, is the monthly income one ex-spouse pays to the other after divorce. The purpose is to maintain your standard of living and help you financially while you get back on your feet.

But how do you know if you’ll get it? The court determines eligibility based on:

  • Length of your marriage – Longer marriages increase chances
  • Your income versus your ex’s – Big income gaps favor the lower earner
  • Your age and health – Can you work to support yourself?
  • Whether you stayed home with kids – This counts as contributing!
  • The marital standard of living – Courts want you to maintain your lifestyle (note: this can get tricky, however, since it is nearly impossible for both parties to maintain their complete standard of living)

The duration of payments often depends on the length of the marriage and varies by state law. However, in South Carolina, you may be awarded permanent alimony regardless of the length of marriage (although we typically see it awarded for marriages of 10+ years).

But heads up – alimony almost always ends if you remarry or live with a new partner, and it can be decreased if the paying spouse begins making less money.

Child Support – Depending on Custody Arrangements

If you are granted primary or joint physical custody of your children after the divorce, you will likely be entitled to receive child support from your ex-spouse.

Child support is intended to help cover the costs of raising the children, and courts determine payment amounts based on factors like custody timeshare, each parent’s income, health insurance costs, and more.

Child support is calculated using your combined incomes and custody timeshare. The exact amount depends on:

  • How many kids you have
  • Each parent’s gross income, including bonuses and commissions
  • Health insurance and childcare costs
  • Additional education or special needs

If your ex is voluntarily unemployed, the court can impute an income based on their qualifications so they can’t duck out on support by quitting their job.

Marital Property – Splitting Up What You Have

South Carolina is an equitable distribution state, so marital assets acquired during marriage are divided fairly between spouses. This is based on contributions, not necessarily a strict 50/50 split.

As a stay-at-home parent, you contributed to the marriage by raising kids and managing the household.

So you’re entitled to an equitable share of assets like:

  • House or other real estate
  • Cars and other vehicles
  • Bank accounts and investments
  • Retirement funds like 401(k)s

The court will assign each spouse their separate and marital property. You’ll get a fair portion even if your name wasn’t on accounts.

Healthcare Benefits – Don’t Lose Insurance

You can get COBRA coverage through your ex’s health insurance for 18-36 months after divorce. This can be crucial while getting back on your feet.

If the marriage lasted over ten years, you may have rights to some Social Security benefits, too. And if your ex served in the military, check if you qualify for healthcare through VA benefits.

Don’t Go It Alone – Call A Lawyer For Advice

Getting the financial support you deserve in a divorce takes understanding your rights. Consult our experienced divorce lawyers at Steele Family Law to fight for your interests as a non-working spouse.

They can help ensure you get a fair deal, whether that’s maximizing alimony, fighting for property division, or modifying support if your situation changes. Don’t leave your future up in the air — contact us today for a personalized case review.

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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