Alimony

Wife Ordered To Pay 24% of her Gross Monthly Income To Husband For Permanent Alimony

This past February the South Carolina Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, upheld a permanent, periodic alimony award requiring Wife to pay her former husband 24% of her gross income. Newman v Newman.

The court found that the trial judge properly considered all of the required 13 statutory alimony factors, and found Wife earned just over $8,000 per month, while Husband was on permanent disability and received $835 per month in disability payments. Of the 13 factors the trial court and court of appeals seemed to put more weight on 3 of the 13 factors:

  1. (4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;
  2. (5) the standard of living established during the marriage;
  3. (6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;

In relying on well established case law, the court reiterated that one of the main purposes of alimony is as a “substitute for the support which is normally incident to the marital relationship, and its purpose is to place the supported spouse as close to the position of support enjoyed during the marriage”. Fuller v Fuller. Husband’s disability seemed to cause the court great concern. In order to place the Husband in as close to a position of support he enjoyed during the marriage the court was required to weigh heavily both parties’ work history and their ability to work in the future in the context of the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

The Newman case is a perfect example of how divorce can often reduce the standard of living for both couples. The Court found that Husband would have a monthly net income after alimony of $4,314 and Wife a monthly net income of $1,935. Living together they enjoyed a net income of nearly $8,000 per month, but now both are expected to survive on much less. In fact, it can hardly be said that either party will be able to enjoy a standard of living near what was “enjoyed during the marriage”.

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