Divorce Is Rarely Simple or Easy
When a couple or a spouse chooses to begin divorce proceedings, the factors leading to that decision are things only the two married parties can fully understand. In addition to the heightened emotion involved, separation and divorce often come with financial costs beyond the simple division of marital assets or alimony payments.
Family law attorneys step in to mediate and litigate the dissolution of a marriage. The personalized services of a skilled Greenville divorce lawyer can provide not only strategic advice and a positive outcome but peace of mind. At Sarah Henry Law, you will always have an advocate for your unique needs and the compassionate representation of a respected professional.
Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina
When people in a marriage experience significant enough problems that one or both parties want to separate, they may have questions about the circumstances required for divorce under South Carolina’s domestic laws.
There are four fault-based grounds for divorce in Greenville: adultery, abandonment, physical abuse or cruelty, and habitual drunkenness or narcotic drug use by one spouse or the other. Fault can impact some aspects of divorce cases, such as a judge’s rulings on spousal support payments, the division of assets, and child visitation.
While divorces stemming from reasons that qualify as at-fault may move quicker than those categorized as no-fault, it is a much more complicated process. Evidence needs to be presented for a judge to clearly determine that the other party is in the wrong. Legal representation matters and we can help you gather the information you need to solidify your argument.
Adultery is the act of having sexual relations with someone other than your spouse consensually. To prove this you only need to show that your spouse had the opportunity for this to happen with probable intent. These may include receiving romantic texts or emails, activity on dating sites, or spending the night alone with another man or woman.
The excess consumption of alcohol or frequent, repeated intoxication by any substance classifies as habitual drunkenness or drug use. It will be necessary to demonstrate that these occurrences happen often and have led to the breakdown of your marital union. If these episodes happen rarely, despite their impact on the relationship, they may not qualify.
The act of leaving a person or thing permanently and completely is referred to as abandonment. For a judge to rule that an at-fault divorce is due to abandonment, your spouse must have left you for a year or greater for this to qualify.
The laws pertaining to divorce based on physical cruelty are complex. The accuser must prove that the other spouse’s actions led to a risk of serious bodily harm or death. This does not have to be habitual, either. It can be one occurrence or a pattern of this violent behavior over time. Actual physical contact is not required if the willingness to do harm now or in the future is present.
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina
South Carolina divorces sought due to irreconcilable differences are commonly handled as “no-fault,” the fifth of the grounds for divorce. In these cases, a married couple must live separately for one year and prove there has been no cohabitation during that time to file a petition for divorce with neither spouse bearing fault.
There is no formal document that needs to be completed to prove that the year of living apart has been fulfilled. During the divorce proceedings, testimony is obtained from the spouse who is filing and one independent witness stating that separate residence has been maintained for a year or greater. A committed attorney with years of experience and proven results handling divorces of all kinds can help keep your case on the path to a positive outcome. At Sarah Henry Law, we make strategic decisions with our clients’ long-term needs and unique circumstances in mind.
Why Should You Hire a Divorce Lawyer?
Marriage is a legally binding agreement. Ending a marriage is nothing either party typically takes lightly, and depending on the length of your union, this may be a very involved process. There are do-it-yourself forms you can attempt to fill out yourself, but there is so much more that goes into dissolving a marriage that a legal expert can ensure it is done correctly and legally.
The decision to obtain legal counsel when seeking a divorce is an important one. A lawyer can only represent one party, and so each spouse will require their own attorney. Some factors which may necessitate hiring a lawyer include:
Your spouse is not complying with the divorce agreement. Once your divorce is final, there have been instances when one spouse will manipulate the other and limit the other’s contact with their children. Visitation may be denied or canceled last minute. A lawyer will help you address this situation legally and ensure agreements are upheld.
Divorce agreements are made in one static time period. Lifestyle changes are bound to happen once you move on from your prior spouse. Relocation or getting remarried may require the prior arrangements to be revisited and a new more flexible arrangement to be made.
If the spouse who’s chosen to offer financial assistance doesn’t pay as required, legal action should be taken to remedy the situation. In other circumstances, the agreed-upon amount for tuition may increase, or a parent’s income may change, either for worse or for better. These mentioned occurrences require renegotiation to previously agreed-upon terms.
Overview of the South Carolina Divorce Process
To file for divorce in Greenville, you must meet certain residency requirements. You or your spouse must have resided in South Carolina for a year or more before filing. If both parties reside here when an action is started, either party can file for divorce as the plaintiff—as long as their residency goes back three months or more. Once an action is filed, both parties must be served.
Meeting the requirements for residence and completing formal service can present legal complexities if one spouse lives in a different jurisdiction or cannot be located, for example. With a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to represent you, however, no challenge that arises during your case will leave you without options or guidance.
Once service is completed, your next steps may depend on whether or not your spouse files a response within thirty days. If the defendant hasn’t answered the petition by then, your attorney may be able to file an affidavit of default for divorce and request a hearing.
The court is unlikely to grant either a divorce or any custodial issues based on a failure to file a response. It can be used to limit the other side’s ability to introduce evidence later related to solely financial issues like equitable division of assets. However, this is unlikely for divorce, child support, custody, and visitation issues.
In an uncontested divorce, courts typically examine cases in simple hearings and issue final orders. However, if your spouse does file a response, including any disagreements with your petition, the case will progress as a contested divorce. These situations require the utmost confidence in a legal professional with the resources to negotiate, mediate, and litigate on your behalf as needed.
Usually, even contested divorces can be resolved outside of a trial if the parties’ lawyers collaborate and negotiate fair settlements. However, if each party has genuinely worked toward a positive resolution and there are still matters they can’t agree on, the courts can make those determinations. When divorce proceedings go to trial, you need a dedicated divorce lawyer in Greenville on your side.
Division of Assets in a South Carolina Divorce
The division of property is affected by your state of residence when you are seeking a divorce. At Sarah Henry Law, your lawyer is highly knowledgeable in the laws regarding divorce agreements in Greenville, South Carolina. South Carolina is an equitable distribution state, meaning that only property that was obtained during the marriage can be subject to division, it is not an automatic 50/50 split.
A variety of factors are considered when determining the division of assets during divorce discussions. Overall debts and assets are calculated as well as the current financial state taking into consideration the future earning potential of each spouse. The first step taken in determining what should be considered eligible for disbursement between the two spouses is to establish what is marital property. This refers to the assets that were acquired during the marriage, it does not matter if it is in one or both spouses’ names.
In some instances, even property owned prior to the marriage may be considered if it is used for the benefit of both parties. For example, a financial gift or inheritance may be included. If this amount was kept in a separate account with one owner’s name it is likely it can be considered separate property. If some assets were transferred to a joint account, arguments could be made that they should be shared.
The most common types of division are the family home and income and financial accounts. Gifts given to each other throughout the course of the marriage qualify for asset division. Equal to the division of assets is also the division of debts. Depending on your portfolio, the separation of assets can be complex. A skilled lawyer will ensure a fair and equitable division.
How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help Resolve Child Custody and Support Issues
Though divorce has many practical impacts on people’s lives, there is no business more important than securing a child’s future. It’s important to protect your custodial rights and the financial resources to care for your children’s needs after you separate from your spouse, so you need the assistance of an office with years of experience in the family practice areas of child custody and support.
Visitation, custody, and parental rights can be complicated when two people who share children separate. Creating a schedule for court-ordered visitation with a noncustodial parent, or simply understanding the difference between legal and physical custody, can feel overwhelming in cases where emotion is already a factor.
When it comes to child support, not every parent is enthusiastic about meeting their obligation when a marriage ends. The court issues orders based on a variety of factors, such as monthly income, but these determinations can be complex. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to ensure that support payments are calculated and enforced in a way that benefits the best interests of the children.
Child custody and support are aspects of a divorce proceeding that require careful strategies, and Sarah Henry Law specializes in these areas of practice. Our office is honored to have helped so many Greenville families through the stressful times involved in divorce cases through personal service and relentless commitment.
Frequently Asked Questions by Greenville Divorce Clients
Every divorce is as different as each individual, so having your unique situation reviewed by an experienced Greenville lawyer is the best way to begin receiving information specific to your needs. In the meantime, here are a few questions commonly asked by clients about how a divorce proceeding goes and the South Carolina laws that relate to it.
There are many benefits to a no-fault divorce, as neither party has to “take the blame.” However, South Carolina’s no-fault procedure requires a married couple to end cohabitation for a year before a complaint for divorce can be filed.
You can handle everything via separate support and maintenance action, except the actual divorce, prior to the one-year date. You would then come back for a 15-minute hearing and handle the divorce after the one-year date has passed.
While all divorce lawyers wish they could guarantee the speed of a case, what Sarah Henry Law promises their clients with confidence is that they will have personalized representation and direct lines of communication with an attorney committed to fighting for their best interests.
The short answer is no. If you feel your marital situation warrants divorce but your spouse doesn’t, you can still obtain a divorce. The help of a skilled lawyer can help you determine the best steps to take to leave your marriage and still protect your rights and assets.
Alimony payments are not calculated with formal guidelines in South Carolina. Instead, the courts consider a variety of factors when making decisions regarding spousal support. These can include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning potential, the standard of living during the union, whether or not a spouse also has to pay child support, and more.
It’s important to have a lawyer fighting for you to ensure the court has reviewed and taken into consideration all the relevant factors. Protect your hard-earned income and secure your ability to care for your future needs and those of your children by having the highest quality of legal representation on your side.
If court-ordered child support payments are not being made, your lawyer can file an action for enforcement, which is overseen by the South Carolina Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). Your attorney can file a Rule to Show Cause, which can result in substantial sanctions for parents who fail to make payments ordered by family courts.
These consequences can include revocation of driving and professional licenses, garnishment of wages, and a parent having to pay retroactive support with fees for interest. In a case for enforcement, a Greenville child support attorney can help you make sure you receive the full amount dictated by the rights you and your children have under South Carolina’s laws.
Schedule a Consultation with a Greenville Divorce Attorney Now
It’s a rare instance if a divorce is ever not stressful. It’s hard to feel you don’t know what’s happening to the house you live in, if your spouse will pay child support, or exactly what your future looks like. When you’re facing a divorce, filing without a lawyer’s help can be more stressful and confusing than ever.
Make a fresh start on your terms. Take the first steps by scheduling a consultation with a Greenville divorce lawyer who will represent you with specialized strategy and personal attention. We’re here to make sure you always feel heard. Get your divorce started on the path to a favorable outcome by calling Sarah Henry Law at 864-478-8324, or fill out and submit the form here on our website.