When you obtained a divorce, your alimony or child support award may have been reached by agreement between you and your former spouse.  If you could not agree, the award may have been ordered by a court. When your life circumstances change, regardless of how your support arrangement was made, a change in alimony or child support payments may be necessary as well.

Because any modification to an alimony or child support order will affect your ability to provide for your family, it is crucial to have an attorney’s help when seeking modification of alimony or child support orders.

Modification of Alimony

The purpose of alimony is to help one spouse maintain the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage when that spouse’s earning capacity is insufficient to bear the standard of living alone.

While some types of alimony awards in South Carolina can be modified, others cannot. Knowing which type of alimony your situation involves can help you determine whether it can be modified and how it may be modified. Your lawyer can help.

Lump sum alimony, which is paid as a fixed amount in either one payment or several installments, typically cannot be modified. Reimbursement alimony, which is paid as a fixed amount to reimburse one spouse for household work contributed or sacrifices made while the other spouse earned a degree or undertook job training to increase his or her earning potential, typically cannot be modified.

However, two types of alimony typically may be modified:

  • Permanent periodic alimony – Paid on a permanent basis until the supported spouse remarries, lives with another person for at least 90 days, or until either spouse dies.
  • Rehabilitative alimony – Paid to help one spouse become self-sufficient.  This amount typically can be modified or terminated.

For permanent periodic alimony or rehabilitative alimony, the person seeking the modification must demonstrate that a “significant change in circumstances” has occurred that justifies the modification. Sometimes, this change in circumstances will involve the remarriage of the supported spouse or the completion of a college degree or career credential by the supported spouse. The loss of a job or other significant source of income by the supporting spouse may also justify a modification of these types of alimony.