It’s happened and you find yourself in the middle of a divorce. Nobody expects to get divorced when they get married, so it can take you by surprise. One of the most stressful events in your life can be handling your divorce case.
It’s important that you hire a Summerville, SC divorce lawyer to handle your divorce. An experienced Summerville, SC divorce lawyer like Lauren Taylor can help answer any of your questions and build your case. Most people’s spouses decide to dissolve their marriages, but they don’t know the right steps to take. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case, so that we can begin to create a plan of action.
How can you get a divorce in South Carolina?
Every state is different in its divorce laws. In the state of South Carolina, you are allowed to end your marriage if you fit one of these four conditions:
If you can prove that you are suffering from any of these situations in your marriage, you can file for divorce by placing the blame on your partner. Consequently, your partner can also file for the dissolution of the marriage stating that you are at fault.
If you want a divorce and you don’t fit any of these situations, you can apply for a no-fault divorce. However, you must live separately from your spouse for at least a year before you can file for a no-fault divorce. Whether it is you or your spouse that is at fault, you will have to agree on terms for your divorce settlement. If you can’t agree on the terms, you will have to go to court where a judge will decide.
The main causes of no-fault divorce can vary, but the major concerns of every divorce in South Carolina are:
- How should the property and debts be divided?
- Should alimony be awarded?
- Who will have custody of the children?
- How much child support should the non-custodial parent pay?
How do you divide property in South Carolina?
The court wants each divorce settlement to have a fair division of property and debts. However, fair is not always considered a 50/50 split. Everything the couple owns, including debts, is supposed to be divided equally. When you first meet with your Summerville, SC divorce lawyer, you should have a list of assets.
You should also include the dates of when the assets were acquired, what they’re valued at now, and your debts. Not all property should be divided between you and your spouse. For example, if you receive an inheritance that is exempt from equitable distribution.
When you negotiate how to divide your assets, you should think about how a judge would consider your case. A judge would take into account:
- What each spouse financially brought into the marriage.
- The health and age of each of the spouses.
- If either spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage.
- How long you were married.
How does alimony work in South Carolina?
Most clients don’t consider alimony when they enter the process of divorce. However, there are many cases where alimony is awarded to the financially weaker spouse.
This alimony can be paid out in installments or in one lump sum. Alimony can be a lifelong expense. However, it can also be a short process to help improve the potential earning potential of the other spouse. When a judge is considering alimony, they look at:
- The length of the marriage.
- How old is each spouse?
- The physical and emotional health of each spouse.
- The educational background of both spouses.
- Whether a spouse needs additional education to make their earning potential increase.
- The standard of living throughout the marriage.
- What each spouse is earning and could potentially earn.
- The expenses of both spouses.
- Any marital misconduct or fault for the end of the marriage.
- Any potential tax consequences.
In South Carolina, if a spouse commits adultery, they cannot receive alimony. However, any of the other at-fault offenses don’t rule out alimony. A judge can also order that temporary maintenance is provided while the divorce is being settled. Alimony can be modified in South Carolina if the recipient lives with someone else for a period or more than 90 days. Also, if there is a death or the spouse remarries, alimony ends.
How is custody determined in South Carolina?
There isn’t one parent that has an automatic right to have legal custody of their children. The divorce law of South Carolina states that a custody arrangement must be created in the best interest of the child.
So, a judge can determine the custody must be sold, shared, or the children could even reside with someone else. If both parents cannot come to an agreement for custody of the children, then the court will have to decide.
Depending on the age of the child, the child can determine who they would like to live with. However, just because a child wants to live with a certain parent, doesn’t mean that the court with find in the child’s favor. While the judge is determining where the children should live, they will consider:
- The age and health of the parents.
- The income as well as the education of both parents.
- Employment and the work schedule of the parents.
- The parenting styles of each of the parents.
- The age and gender of the children.
- The living preference of the children.
- Any evidence of domestic violence and abuse.
- Additional information provided by interviews and investigations.
Now that custody is determined, how is child support decided?
Moving through the process of your divorce, the custody and support of your children is one of the most important aspects. Once custody is decided, the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support. South Carolina operates on an income shares model.
There are many charts and tables that the court will use to determine the cost of raising a child in your household. Then, based on the income of the parents, they will pay a portion of the child care expenses. When looking at Child Support Guidelines, the amount is determined by:
- Any prior support obligations.
- The number of children that are being supported.
- The income, or potential incomes, of each parent.
- The percentage of combined incomes from each parent.
- The number of children in the home of each parent.
- Daycare expenses for the children.
- Health insurance costs for children.
Once the amount of child support has been decided, it is the non-custodial parent’s responsibility to make their payments. If child support isn’t being paid, the custodial parent can go back to family court. Choosing not to pay child support can result in garnished wages or even jail time. It is important to follow every decree of the divorce, including paying your child support.
Can child support be modified?
Yes. If you are required to pay child support, but your finances have changed, it’s time to go reevaluate. For example, say your spouse has a new job where they are making more money. You can go back to court to redefine the terms of your child support.
By earning more money, you are required to pay less in child support. Reversely, if the non-custodial parent is making more money, you can ask for an increase in your child support. We are experienced in handling all facets of child support, contact us today with any of your questions.
How long can a divorce case last?
Once you decide you want a divorce, you will need to file a petition with the court. Thankfully, your Summerville, SC divorce attorney will handle the paperwork of your case. Once a petition is filed, the case must be resolved within 1 year. If the case hasn’t been resolved, it will be dismissed by the court.
A divorce settlement can be reached through mediation or within a courtroom at the hands of a judge. Many divorce cases are complex and end up in court after mediation isn’t successful.
Do I need to hire a divorce attorney?
Yes. A divorce is a complicated process and one of the most difficult in your life. You need a Summerville, SC divorce attorney that you can trust for guidance. Most cases take several rounds of mediation before there is a successful divorce settlement. Having an experienced Summerville, SC divorce attorney can help facilitate the process.
Choose a divorce attorney that cares about your case
There are several divorce attorneys in Summerville, SC, and you need to make sure to pick the best fit for you. We are focused on getting you the best divorce settlement as efficiently as possible.
It is our goal to guide you through every step of your divorce while protecting the interests of you and your children. Contact Lauren Taylor Law today to set up an appointment to discuss the details of your divorce, so that you can move on with your life.