Family law encompasses a variety of legal issues, including divorce, child custody, adoption, alimony, and prenuptial agreements. In South Carolina, family law has a variety of unique rules and regulations that can be difficult to understand. At Sentinel Law Firm, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of family law in South Carolina.
Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of ending a marriage. In general, South Carolina a couple must be living separate and apart for at least 12 months before they can obtain a divorce. Of course, the filing can happen sooner than 12 months of separation, however there will likely not be any court order granting a divorce until after the 12-month mark. It is important to note that the term separate and apart does not include staying in separate rooms in one residence. The parties must be living at separate residences to be legally considered living separate and apart.
In South Carolina, there are two types of divorce: no-fault and fault based. In a no-fault divorce, the couple does not have to prove that one spouse is at fault for the marriage ending. Instead, they only need to be living separate and apart for 12 months, and then they can file to obtain a divorce. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. South Carolina recognizes adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness or drug use, or desertion as grounds for fault-based divorce.
One of the main differences between no-fault and fault-based divorce is the waiting period to obtain the divorce. While there is typically the requirement for living apart for at least 12 months before obtaining the divorce, if the divorce is fault based then the requirement for the waiting period no longer applies. Whether a divorce is fault based or not also affects aspects of the separation like the division of the assets, alimony, or child custody.
If a divorce is based on adultery, then the division of the assets could be changed based on whether the adulterer used marital assets in the course of the adultery. For example, if the cheating spouse used the joint bank account to buy a gift for their paramour, then that at-fault spouse’s share of the assets could be reduced by how much the gift cost. If a divorce is based on physical abuse, then the abusive spouse could lose primary custody of their child because of their abuse. For help with abuse, visit Greenville’s Domestic Violence Community Resources.
Child custody is the legal process of determining who has physical and legal custody of a minor child when the parents are not legally married. In South Carolina, the court will consider several factors when deciding who has custody of the child, with the largest factor being the best interests of the child. To determine what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider factors such as the age of the child, the relationship between the parents and the child, the ability of the parents to provide a stable home, the mental and physical health of the parents, the location of each parent, among other factors.
Each custody case is unique, and there is never any guarantee on how a case will turn out. The court’s top priority is to ensure the child is placed in the best possible position to grow and thrive. A court’s decision on custody does not prevent a parent from seeking a change if there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Child support is a payment made by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help cover the cost of raising a child. In South Carolina, the parent who has physical custody of the child is typically the one who receives the child support payments. However, it is important to understand that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children. No matter the circumstances, parents are responsible for providing a stable and comfortable life for their children.
The amount of child support is determined by a variety of factors, including both parent’s incomes, the number of children, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and any other special circumstances. The court will also consider the cost of health insurance and daycare. The formula is designed to ensure that each parent is paying an equitable amount of support.
The amount of child support that is ordered by the court is not set in stone. It is possible for the amount of support to be modified if either parent experiences a significant change in their financial situation. It is important to remember that child support payments are court-ordered and must be paid in a timely manner. If a parent fails to make their court-ordered payments, they could face serious consequences, including wage garnishment or even jail time.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the payment of financial support from one party to the other typically after a divorce is finalized. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to the receiving spouse, so they can maintain a lifestyle similar to the one they had before the divorce. In South Carolina, the court has the power to award alimony if it finds that it is appropriate and necessary.
When determining alimony, the court will consider such factors as the length of the marriage, the health of the parties, their respective incomes, and the standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage. The court will also take into account the need of the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient, as well as any contributions made by the parties during the marriage, including child support payments. Whether a divorce is fault-based can also impact alimony amount.
In South Carolina, there are five types of alimony that can be awarded: permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, lump-sum alimony, temporary alimony, and reimbursement alimony. Permanent alimony is when the court orders one spouse to make payments to the other for an indefinite period of time. Rehabilitative alimony is when payments are made over a period of time to help one spouse become financially independent. Lump-sum alimony is when a one-time payment is made to one spouse. Temporary alimony is when payments are made to one spouse while a divorce is pending, and reimbursement alimony is when one spouse pays the other spouse back for money they used to support the other spouse during the marriage.