When will alimony need to be paid?

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When will alimony need to be paid?

I have a friend who is thinking about leaving her husband. They have 3 kids together. He was fired from his job 2 years ago and is still unemployed. She works 2 jobs and maybe makes $20K/year. She is worried that if she leaves she will have to pay him alimony. I can’t imagine her having to pay him alimony, especially if she has the kids. Will she have to pay alimony to him if he is able to work but hasn’t?

Asked on December 18, 2012 under Family Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is not impossible that she could pay him alimony. Alimony, or spousal support, is technically separate from child support, so the fact that she may or will have custody of the children does not automatically mean that she would not owe spousal support. Courts look to many factors, such as who has been supporting who, and for how long; the employment potential of each spouse (is he employable? or does he have some injury, or outdated skills, or other factor which makes him effectively unemployable); and the earning potential of each spouse (e.g. if he does get a job, would he likely make $15,000 per year or $50,000 a year)? Rather than guess about whether she will pay alimony or not, she should consult with a divorce or family law attorney. The lawyer can evaluate all the facts in her situation and advise her as to likely custody and child support arrangements; spousal support; and the distribution of any assets (e.g. splitting up homes, cars, money in the bank, etc.)


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