Permanent alimony is one of the most controversial aspects of family law in South Carolina.
Recently, the Island Packet reported on how a Columbia man believes he has paid enough for his failed marriage and has launched a campaign to abolish "permanent" alimony.
"There's no reason to have to pay somebody forever simply because your marriage failed," Wyman Oxner, was quoted as saying. He was married for 21 years and has been paying alimony since 1999. Oxner heads up the campaign to abolish permanent alimony.
While neither spouse is automatically entitled to receive alimony in South Carolina, the award of spousal support is largely a matter for the discretion of the judge-provided only that the person requesting it has not committed adultery.
If it is deemed to be fair and equitable for one spouse to provide for the financial support of the other, the court may make an award of alimony which is either temporary or permanent. The purpose of alimony has traditionally been to provide a financially dependent spouse with support while transitioning back into single life and while securing the training and education necessary to earn a suitable income, as well as to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.
However, permanent alimony remains a contentious issue. Oxner founded S.C. Alimony Reform group which boasts more than 200 members and an alliance with a second-wives group. Efforts to reform the law in South Carolina are being replicated in Florida and Connecticut.
The media reports said S.C. lawmakers are listening to the concerns and may create a task force this session to assess the state's alimony laws.
But others in South Carolina say the state's current laws, which provide judges with flexibility, should remain in place.
S.C. Alimony Reform wants to end alimony after a specific period of time – for example, capping it at half the length of an ended marriage. Oxner said he favors capping alimony at 10 years regardless of a marriage's length.
Under the present law, permanent alimony only ends with the death of a former spouse or when the person receiving alimony remarries or cohabits for an extended period of time. Alimony also can be modified by a court.
The Island Packet report suggests the issue could be of interest to thousands of people. "Divorce cases in South Carolina have increased from nine years ago — to 17,015 in 2014 from 12,224 in 2005," the article states.
In his campaign to get the alimony laws changed, Oxner contacted his local legislator, state Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, who filed a resolution to create a study committee to look at those laws.
.Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, met with S.C. Alimony Reform members earlier in February, telling them he could favor creating a task force to study the issue.
Other alimony proposals introduced this session include a bill, sponsored by Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Spartanburg, which would change state law so there would be a presumption of no permanent alimony in marriages of less than 10 years, with the exception of cases in which there were significant factors exist justifying the payments.
S.C. Alimony Reform has spent over $6,000 on ads and billboards around the Columbia area, Oxner said.
Second Wives Club chairwoman Heather Hahn told the media, women in the group are sending letters to lawmakers to give alimony reform a female face.
An experienced Columbia alimony lawyer will fight for your rights in these difficult cases. Call Masella Law at 803.938.4952.