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Group Steps up Its Efforts to Reform Alimony in South Carolina with Columbia Conference


Alimony is a controversial issue in South Carolina – so much so that a nonprofit was recently formed to battle for the reform of what it terms the state's "archaic alimony laws."

South Carolina Alimony Reform has announced a public conference on the issue on January 11 at Dupre's Catering on Senate Street in Columbia, when the keynote speaker will be Steve Hitner, the founder of Massachusetts Alimony Reform.

Massachusetts passed new alimony laws in 2013. The Boston Globe reported the new laws replaced "an old system marred by inequities and abuses, including, in some cases, alimony payments for life, even for short-term marriages. Critics said the old law discouraged recipients, most of them women, from supporting themselves, and from remarrying."

The new law in Massachusetts curbs lifetime payments and lays out time limits on alimony for marriages of 20 years or less. In longer marriages, judges may still determine the length of support payments.

Jerry Govan, a member of the South Carolina House who sponsors South Carolina Alimony Reform's bills in the legislature, will also be at the Jan. 11 event.

The group says permanent alimony payments affect many of its members and have caused "great hardship for some of our members."

Alimony is also known as spousal support in South Carolina. It is largely at the discretion of the judge and is conditional on the person who is requesting it having not committed adultery.

Although alimony can be modifiable it can also be non-modifiable or permanent. The inability of a party to change the payments in some cases, has fueled the growth of a reform movement.

There are five kinds of alimony in South Carolina:

  • Periodic
  • Lump sum
  • Rehabilitative
  • Reimbursement,
  • Other

The courts consider a wide number of factors in South Carolina when considering whether or not to award alimony and how much to award. They include:

  • The duration of the marriage as well as the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and its termination.
  • The education background of each spouse including how much additional education they would need to meet their income potential
  • The physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • Each spouse's job history and their earning potential
  • Which party has custody of the children
  • The standard of living established during the marriage itself
  • The tax consequences of alimony
  • Any support obligations from a previous marriage
  • What the spouses currently earn and their anticipated earnings
  • The current expenses of each spouse and anticipated future expenses
  • Any marital misconduct or fault of either party

There are also some additional factors that a judge may consider in making an award of alimony. In some cases, if circumstances later change, it's possible to file a post-decree modification to alimony.

Our Columbia family lawyers often get involved in alimony proceedings. If a former spouse is not paying you alimony or has fallen behind in payments, a Columbia divorce attorney from our firm can represent you in court. Call the Masella Law Firm at 803.748.9990.

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