Question: My husband has deserted me and refuses to help me financially. He has moved in with his mistress and won’t have any contact with me! How do I file for spousal support? He is refusing to help me.
Answer: You should consult with a lawyer immediately so that you can move forward with the Family Court to get some immediate relief. Unfortunately, the only way to obtain the relief you are seeking is to file an action with the Family Court for divorce/separation and request this relief through a Motion for Temporary Relief. I strongly suggest hiring a lawyer because alimony is a complex issue and there are some strict procedural rules about what the Court may consider at a temporary hearing and if you do not comply with those rules you may forfeit your rights or just plain miss out on relief you are entitled to.
In South Carolina you have the option to file for divorce using one of five grounds (physical abuse, habitual drunkenness, adultery, desertion, or continuous separation for more than one year). You also have the alternative to file for separate support and maintenance which is similar to a legal separation. Those are essentially your keys to the courthouse. No matter which way you file, you will be able to ask the court to award you immediate relief such as alimony/spousal support, custody of minor children, child support, use of the marital home, health insurance coverage, etc.
The family court will consider multiple factors in determining whether to award you alimony or not, and then if it does determine that you are eligible for support the Court will determine how much to award. The factors considered will be things like your ages, physical and mental health, employment history, income history, why you are currently unemployed (e.g. agreement to stay at home and raise the children), other assets you have, tax implications, length of the marriage, and a few more.
As a side note and warning, I would encourage you to file something sooner rather than later. The longer you go without financial assistance from your spouse, the more it appears that it is not needed. While that is not a specific factor considered by the Court it could be relevant and a long term separation without a request for support could make it unlikely that you would be awarded support.
To learn more about Temporary Hearings, check out these posts: