Despite progress made in other states on alimony reform in 2016, a group of family court lawyers managed to block reform in South Carolina. While some lawyers want to see fair divorce settlements, others say the system is not broken, presumably because they are lining their own pockets. They opposed bills that would establish clear alimony guidelines and make reasonable divorce mediations possible. These are the lawyers who encourage expensive, protracted lawsuits and clients who go for their ex-spouses’ jugular.
Divorce does not have to be this way. Honest, hard-working family court lawyers know the system is unfair and provided invaluable input to create a set of alimony-reform bills that were sponsored by Sen. Greg Gregoy, Katrina Shealy and Luke Rankin. The bills are reasonable and do not take discretion away from judges, although opponents make it sound as though they do. All the bills ask for is that permanent alimony no longer be treated as the preferred form of alimony, so the elderly can retire and the middle-aged can help send their children to college. Imagine being married to someone for less than 10 years, but paying your ex-spouse as much as a third of your income for the rest of your life.
Sen. Gerald Malloy attached objections to the alimony-reform bills. While he said he was for alimony reform, he did everything in his power to block it. Similarly, matrimonial lawyers made suggestions at committee meetings to make it appear that they care about reform, but their suggestions created no change at all.
I am shocked the citizens of this state stand for the shenanigans. You would think that if an objection is placed to a bill, the next step would be debate concerning the objections raised and then a vote. But that’s not how it works. Instead, the bill just dies. Senators attach objections to bills just to see what they can finagle from other senators in return. Until South Carolinians muster their righteous indignation and put an end to the fleecing of people already going through a difficult time in their lives, divorce proceedings will continue to look like entertainment in the Roman Coliseum and obstructionist legislators will continue to conduct business as usual in South Carolina.