Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law Matters
What are the grounds for a Divorce in the State of South Carolina?
We have four fault grounds; adultery, habitual drunkenness (which includes drug abuse), physical cruelty and desertion for divorce in South Carolina. We also have the no fault ground of living separate and apart in excess of one year. The one year begins to run from the date of your actual separation. If at any point during this one year, you reconcile, even for a night, the clock starts over.
How long does it take to get a Divorce?
The law provides that a final hearing can be held in a fault ground divorce case 90 days after the filing of an action. However, due to family court docket restraints in the Upstate of South Carolina divorce actions generally take longer depending on the complexity of the case.
Who gets custody of the children?
In South Carolina, both parents have equal rights regarding an award of custody of their children. The Family Court will make child custody decisions based upon the best interests of the child. To determine what the best interests of the child are, the Family Court will consider many factors including the following: circumstances of the spouses, nature of the case, welfare of the child, best spiritual and other interests of child, and at times, the child’s preference.
How is Marital Property Divided in the State of South Carolina?
Property acquired by either party during a marriage is considered marital property, except for gifts from third parties and inheritance. All marital property is equitably divided between the parties based on a variety of factors.
Will I have to pay alimony?
Whether or not a person is ordered to pay alimony is determined by a number of factors generally alimony is awarded in long term marriages where there is a significant difference between the spouses current incomes as well as that spouses ability for future earning potential.
How much will I pay in attorney’s fees?
Attorney’s fees vary based on the complexity of the case.
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
Guardians are individuals appointed by the Court to represent the best interest of the minor children. They interview the parents, teachers, friends, and relatives. They also review court files, criminal reports, school materials, and DSS records. They complete a thorough unbiased and complete investigation and report their findings to the Court. The Court relies on Guardians to provide them with the facts and make recommendations surrounding a custody dispute. They only make a recommendation to the Court concerning custody if requested by the trial judge. The Guardian’s fee is usually split between the parents.
Can a father get custody?
So, is it possible for a father to be awarded custody of a child or children? Absolutely, and without question. The paramount consideration in all child custody controversies is the best interests of the child or children involved, and with the abolishment of the “Tender Years Doctrine” the Court has recognized the invaluable contribution of fathers to the health, welfare and well-being of their children.
What types of visitation are there?
In South Carolina, visitation rights may be agreed upon by the parents. If parents cannot come to an agreement, the Family Court will set visitation rights. Once visitation is set, if a parent is denied court-ordered access to a child, the parent may bring the issue back before the court. When it is in the best interest of the child, a judge may decide to modify the visitation order, and the judge can also order makeup visitation for the time missed. There are two main types of visitation: standard and restricted.
What is standard visitation?
Most counties have what is called standard visitation. In Greenville County standard visitation is a visitation schedule produced by the Honorable Tim Brown.
Can the Court restrict visitation?
For a variety of reasons standard visitation is not appropriate in all cases, for instance, if a parent has a drug addiction. In those cases the court may provide for daytime visitation or supervised visitation.
How is Child Support Determined?
In the State of South Carolina we utilize the Department of Social Services Guidelines, which is a formula which looks at the parents’ gross monthly income and gives parents credits for certain expenditures such as work related daycare expenses. Child support can either be paid directly from one parent to the other or through Family Court with a 5% administrative fee added to the payment.