Because money is always an issue in divorce, alimony is a big concern. However, alimony is not awarded in every case and is not used to punish adultery. Rather, the type and amount, if awarded, depending on a number of specific case factors. For example, if you are married for only a brief time, alimony is usually NOT indicated. In many cases, neither party is required to pay any alimony at all. After all, the purpose of alimony is to help get your spouse re-established and/or to maintain their current economic status. While it is usually included in the final divorce decree, alimony can also be awarded during separation while the divorce is pending

While situations vary, the typical scenario is a high-earning spouse paying a low or no earning spouse. Because most couples today have dual incomes, the current trend is towards less alimony awards than in the past. Furthermore, alimony is not used to punish the paying spouse. Rather, it helps a financially dependent spouse for a time temporarily after divorce. However, in long term marriages where one spouse has sacrificed to support the other, alimony is definitely an issue.



Temporary or Spousal Support

While a case is pending between filing and a final hearing, temporary alimony may be available. During this interim period, both parties are getting used to their new status financially. However, temporary alimony does not necessarily mean a judge will order permanent alimony in a final award.


Because a spouse may drop out of school or work when children are born, temporary alimony may help. Hence, payments here are intended to help with additional education or training. However, if the spouse does not do their part or drops out, the Court can terminate this award.


While cases vary, the usual circumstance involves one spouse who puts the other spouse through school. Then after the training is finished and they start their career, the marriage ends. Consequently, the “supporting spouse” can seek some portion of. money spent back. However, other factors such as student loans and any other contribution by the other spouse come into play.

lump sum

Because some couples simply want to “get on with their lives,” this option is usually best for those without children. However, as expected, it is often difficult to agree on the amount. Consequently, both parties have to compromise to make this work. In addition, independent review and approval by the Court is recommended.

permanent Periodic

Although increasingly rare, alimony is paid regularly (usually monthly) to a spouse who cannot support his or herself alone. Furthermore, periodic alimony can terminate under certain conditions. For example, it ends if either spouse dies or if the recipient spouse remarries. In addition, there is no more alimony if the recipient lives with someone for ninety (90) consecutive days.

change in circumstances

Because life changes, a paying spouse can ask the court to stop alimony if they can show a “substantial change” in circumstances. For example, the recipient spouse may start earning more money or receive a large inheritance. Hence, initial awards can be modified or even terminated based on changes in life status. As a result, actions to modify prior alimony awards are becoming very common.


Unlike child support which uses a formula, alimony is more complicated. In addition, the Court has great discretion in determining alimony awards. While making their final decision, judges consider a number of factors. For example, they consider the physical and emotional condition of each spouse, and the standard of living established during marriage. In addition, they look at employment history, and the current and future earnings and expenses of both spouses.

While the above factors are expected, the Court also considers other aspects. For example, the length of the marriage, the ages, and the educational and work history of each spouse. And finally, the need for retraining, child custody, existing obligations, tax consequences, and marital misconduct. 

Marital fault and alimony

While alimony is not used to punish bad behavior, it is still a factor. Hence, the Court can consider marital fault when the fault (habitual drunkenness, adultery, etc.) caused the breakup or affected the economic circumstances. In addition, adultery, if proven, is a complete bar to alimony. So before approval of a property settlement agreement or final Order, it is better to stay home and be lonely. Otherwise, bad things can still happen. However, the mere suspicion or rumors of an affair are not legally enough. Rather, an adultery claim must be proven usually through the use of private investigators. However, do not spy on your spouse as this can get you in trouble with the law.


Because the Court relies on this document, you must be truthful about your actual expenses and total income. Also, you should get advice from your CPA or tax preparer on any implications of an alimony award. While completing this document is tedious, it is important. Furthermore, both parties must be thorough and completely honest. As a result, any “errors” could be portrayed as calculating or even fraudulent. Hence, take your time and get these figures right. Otherwise, your credibility before the Court will be questioned.


While we can explain the different types of alimony, we are NOT tax professionals. As a result, we always advise clients to review any tax consequences with their CPA or tax advisor.  In the most general terms, alimony is taxable income to the receiving spouse and deductible to the paying spouse. On the other hand, child support payments are not usually taxable payments for either party. However, each person’s financial situation is different, and we may not know all relevant information. Consequently, we will rely on your CPA or tax advisor guidance here.


In Fort Mill, Tega Cay, and Indian Land, our family law attorneys can answer your questions and go over your options. Furthermore, we are local lawyers with our Baxter Village office above the Grapevine Wine Bar on Market Street. In addition, we also have a Charlotte office available if more convenient or you prefer to meet in private. For immediate help and guidance, email or call Mr. Reeves directly at 803.554.4157. You can also contact us here.

get help now.

(704) 351- 7979

after hours, evenings, or weekends

Legal Help Videos

Check out our featured videos for some legal advice from our attorneys!