Do I Have to Pay Alimony?

Do I Have to Pay Alimony?

One of the most frustrating parts of a divorce is having to split assets, which also sometimes means paying your ex-spouse money. Some clients may regard this as “paying for peace” or paying a “severance check” to an ex, the truth is the law has good reasons for enforcing alimony provisions. Unfortunately, all too often the courts misapply the law or unrepresented individuals get taken advantage of in the alimony calculation process. If you’re getting divorced, you might be wondering: do I have to pay alimony? So, here are a few things you should understand about alimony if you are getting divorced.

Why Alimony?

Under Section 20-3-120, the South Carolina Code says that when two people get divorced, either person may ask the court to award alimony. The goal is to fairly and equally balance each party’s need for money and ability to care for himself or herself after divorce. However, the law is not without limitations.

What Type of Alimony is Allowed?

Under Section 20-3-130, the South Carolina Code also breaks alimony into different types, specifically the following:


Usually, in shorter marriages or those situations where the requesting spouse will likely remarry or find a way to earn more money in the future, the court may aware periodic support. This type of alimony is designed to help the person re-establish, but it is subject to frequent review and will stop if the person remarries or begins cohabitating.

Lump Sum

Just like it sounds, in some cases a court will just award a lump sum to be paid to the requesting spouse as alimony. This can be preferable if the parties want finality and there are sufficient liquid assets to do so.


Common in situations where one spouse will require a little help getting re-established on his or her own after the marriage, a court may award rehabilitative alimony that terminates upon some specified event. For instance, say one spouse was attending school to obtain a career, the court may award alimony payable to that spouse for a set amount of time to terminate upon completion of the training or a set date, whichever comes first. This gives the paying spouse certainty as to when it will stop and gives the receiving spouse time to re-establish earning potential, perhaps after a lengthy period of unemployment while relying on a spouse’s income.


Somewhat the opposite of rehabilitative support, reimbursement operates to compensate rather than assist. Consider a spouse who works to put the other person through medical school or law school only to get divorced upon that spouse obtaining a high-paying job. This type of alimony is designed to compensate or reimburse. This is, of course, just one of many possible examples.

Separate Maintenance and Support

Consider this alimony for separated (but not divorced) couples. For any number of reasons, a couple may be in an extended legal separation. During this time, one person may be required to continue helping support the other, depending on the circumstances.

Other Support

In family law cases, the court has a lot of discretion to answer the question: do I have to pay alimony? The court can award support for any number of reasons other than those specifically listed in the statute. The primary consideration will generally be whether the parties are going to be placed in a fair and equitable position after divorce. The law provides 13 considerations when deciding alimony. These include tax consequences, the standard of living each person enjoyed during the marriage, and their ability to earn income, among many other things. Section 20-3-130 details the considerations.

Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

So, do I have to pay alimony or get legal help? If you are seeking alimony, or your spouse has petitioned the court to award alimony, you need legal help now. Do not rely on your spouse’s attorney. An experienced attorney can help fight against unfair or unreasonable alimony requests. If alimony is warranted, an attorney can work to make sure the award is reasonable and within your means. Don’t let someone else tell you your rights. Contact us to speak with an attorney today. Klok Law Firm LLC represents clients throughout Mount Pleasant and the surrounding areas.