Going through a divorce in North Charleston, SC, or coming to the end of a marriage can be difficult emotionally. However, more than emotion, it can be hard financially because in many ways a marriage is a business relationship and contractual relationship. Couples can acquire assets that need to be divided and debts that need to be apportioned. The decisions made early in your separation and/or divorce can have long lasting consequences and, in some instances where property, other assets, debts, and alimony are concerned, decisions are often permanent.
Here at the Duffy Law Firm, LLC, we can help you navigate these difficult questions and help you, and your family, achieve the right outcome.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE IN NORTH CHARLESTON, SC
There are 5 grounds for divorce in North Charleston, SC. Irreconcilable differences, mental abuse, and emotional abuse are NOT ONE OF THEM. The Court will not consider or grant divorces on anything other than the grounds listed below.
South Carolina Code § 20-3-10 lists the grounds for divorce as:
- Adultery (which can be proven through Motive and Opportunity, but does not include solely emotional affairs);
- Desertion for a period of one year (abandoning the home and the spouse for one year without their consent). This does not include deployments.;
- Physical Cruelty (physical abuse-Domestic Violence);
- Habitual Drunkenness (abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and/or prescription drugs);
- One Year Continued Separation (living completely separate and apart, and not reinitiating the martial relationship, for more than one year).
South Carolina does not allow for a ‘quickee’ divorce. There are statutory waiting periods that must be observed. Please ask our attorneys about how these statutory waiting periods apply to your case.
LEGAL SEPARATION/SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE
If none of the above grounds for divorce apply to your situation, you may be entitled to file an action for Separate Support and Maintenance. This will allow you to live free of your spouse as if you were unmarried. While South Carolina does not recognize ‘legal separation,’ the legislature created the ability to file for separate support and maintenance to allow for spouses to start the process until they are able to file for a divorce.
At the end of a successfully completed separate support and maintenance action, you and your spouse will have divided your assets, debts, and decided on alimony. If you have children, visitation, custody, and child support will be determined. All that will be left is filing for a divorce after your one year of continuous separation has expired.
GENERAL QUESTIONS & HOW TO COME PREPARED TO YOUR CONSULTATION
Questions that you must ask can include:
- Who keeps the house? Who pays for the upkeep of house? If there is a note and mortgage on the house, who pays that?
- Who keeps which vehicle? Who pays for the vehicle(s) gas, taxes, and insurance?
- Does either party have a retirement, investment and/or savings account? Who has rights to each and to what extent?
- What happens if just one spouse’s name is on the account, title, deed, and/or business? Does the other spouse have any interests in, or rights to, some or all of the asset or proceeds from that asset?
- Is alimony and/or spousal support a factor in your separation and divorce?
- Information you need to know and bring to the consultation:
- How is your deed titled? Which spouse is named on the mortgage?
- How are the vehicles (vehicles, ATVs, boats, golf carts, etc.) titled? Are they paid off? If not, who holds the note and which spouse is on the note?
- Your date of marriage. As obvious as it sounds, some people cannot remember and it is important to know when determining what assets accrued during the marriage.
- The income (and source of income) for each spouse.
- The earning capacity of each spouse.
- Any adultery, physical cruelty, and/or drug or alcohol abuse in the marriage and by which spouse.
Knowing these basics will help our attorneys and the Court determine allocation of assets and debts and the right/obligation of either spouse to receive/pay alimony or spousal support. Knowing the skeletons in your closet is just as important to your attorney as knowing the other party’s skeletons. One of the worst things you can do for your case is leaving your attorney unaware of your own issues as it allows the other party to control the narrative.
GENERAL CHILD CUSTODY/VISITATION/CHILD SUPPORT QUESTIONS
Of course, if you have children who are minors, or incapacitated requiring constant care, then you must ask these questions:
- Who will have primary custody of the child/children?
- Who has been the historical primary caregiver for the child/children?
- What type of visitation schedule is workable for the parents given where they live, and their work schedules?
- What schedule is BEST for the kids, given their primary residence, any special needs they have, and their extracurricular activities?
If there are bad acts by either parent that gave rise to the divorce, is the other parent fit to be a custodian? If so, are there conditions that need to be put in place to protect the children while still allowing them to see the parent and maintain their connection to him/her?
How much does each parent make per month (their pre-tax [gross] monthly income)? This will help determine the need and the costs of child support. A handy tool is the South Carolina DSS Child Support Calculator that can be found at. But remember, the SCDSS Child Support Calculator is just an estimate and is frequently inaccurate. If you’re going through a legal separation or divorce in North Charleston, SC, please have a lawyer help you with this!