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Do I Have to Pay Alimony if My Spouse Works?

In the face of divorce, most people begin to worry about finances, and reasonably so. If your marriage has broken down, you may be worried about alimony, child support, and let us not forget – your credit.

Suppose you earn more than your spouse, but he or she has a full-time job. Does that mean you're off the hook as far as alimony is concerned? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on a number of factors, including each spouse's income and earning ability.

Like most states, in South Carolina alimony is not automatic, nor is it guaranteed in a divorce. If a lower-earning spouse asks for alimony and the higher-earning spouse puts up a fight, the lower-earning spouse can ask the family court to award alimony in their divorce case. The wealthier spouse cannot say, "I won't pay you a dime in alimony" and get away with it if the court decides otherwise.

What Influences an Alimony Award?

Back to the question, "Can I be ordered to pay alimony if my spouse has a job?" It is possible, especially when there is a large discrepancy in the couple's earnings. For example, if a husband earns $100,000 a year working full-time, while his wife earns $30,000 a year working the same hours, there is a high probability that he will be ordered to pay alimony.

On the other hand, if the wife earns $85,000 or $90,000 a year and she'll be collecting child support, the judge may not order the husband to pay alimony, especially if the wife earns enough to enjoy a comfortable standard of living. If your spouse earns significantly less than you, the chances of you paying support are higher, whether you're a man or a woman.

Today, alimony or spousal support is gender neutral, meaning men are entitled to receive alimony too. However, women still receive the majority of alimony payments throughout the nation because they tend to earn less than their husbands. Women have made great strides financially in recent decades, and more are becoming breadwinners, but the hard numbers don't lie; on average men pay far more alimony than women. Essentially, alimony is awarded based on one spouse's need and the higher-earning spouse's ability to pay it.

If you have questions regarding your obligations under South Carolina's divorce laws, don't hesitate to contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. for a free case evaluation!