Alimony Reform in South Carolina

Alimony Reform in South Carolina

Alimony reform is making considerable strides in South Carolina in 2016. This is due in large part to the considerable urging by the South Carolina Alimony Reform, an organization formed in 2011 with the one goal of abolishing permanent alimony. The group has made waves over the last few years and grabbed the attention of the South Carolina legislature, which has created a legislative committee to review South Carolina’s current alimony policies.

Changes to the Current Alimony Practice

The most recent step has been the drafting and creation of House Bill 4029, which is still in its infancy but makes great strides in alimony reform. The following are some of the changes proposed by House Bill 4029:

Presumption that Reimbursement or Lump-Sum Alimony is Default Alimony Practices

  1. Though the bill maintains the system of periodic alimony, lump sum alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, etc., it incorporates a presumption in the law that the court’s default alimony payment structure be centered around reimbursement or lump-sum alimony, rather than periodic or rehabilitative alimony, unless their evidence is provided to the court that supports otherwise.

Duration of Marriage will Dictate Duration of Alimony Payments

  1. The bill also creates a presumption that the duration of marriage will dictate the type of alimony that may be included in the settlement. The overall outcome, however, is that regardless of how long the couple was married, the court should not give alimony for a period longer than the duration of the marriage, unless clear and convincing evidence is put forth that extraordinary circumstances are present to dictate this type of alimony. The bill suggests that there is a presumption that:
  • For a marriage that is five years long or less, alimony should not be given to either party
  • For a marriage lasting between five to 10 years, the supported spouse is permitted to receive alimony for a period that is equal to 20 percent of the time that the couple was married
  • For a marriage lasting between 10 and 20 years, the supported spouse can receive alimony for a period that is equal to 30 percent of the time that the couple was married
  • For a marriage lasting between 20 and 30 years, the supported spouse is entitled to alimony for a period that is equal to 40 percent of the duration of the marriage
  • For a marriage lasting 30 years or longer, the supported spouse is only entitled to alimony for a period that is equal to 50 percent of the duration of the marriage.

Cohabitation’s Effect on Alimony

  1. The bill incorporates a redefined relationship between alimony and cohabitation, defining cohabitation to mean that the supported spouse is in a romantic relationship with the person with which he/she is living in the same house. The bill broadens the definition of cohabitation and includes that a supported spouse may be considered to cohabitate with another even if the supported spouse has a separate residence in addition to the residence being shared between the supported spouse and his/her romantic partner. The bill also provides that the court, when considering the award of alimony, should also give weight to how much of the supported spouse’s award will go to paying for the cohabited living space shared with another person.

What Payments Should or Should Not Modify Alimony Payments

  1. Finally, the bill adds that alimony should be decreased when the supported spouse receives social security, pension, and any passive retirement funds. The bill also creates the presumption that retirement is considered a change of circumstance where at retirement; the supported spouse’s alimony should be modified based on any social security benefits due to the supported spouse. The bill, however, does state that disability benefits (whole or partial), workers’ compensation, or other income received by the supported spouse for an injury or disability should not affect the alimony payments, except where the supporting spouse can should good cause.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area

The new alimony reform will overhaul the current state of alimony payments. If you and your significant other are considering a divorce, this alimony reform may affect your alimony responsibility. It is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney at Klok Law Firm LLC, who can help you assess how the alimony reform will impact your divorce settlement and alimony future. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.