If you’re contemplating getting a divorce, you probably have many questions and maybe feeling overwhelmed. This is quite understandable. Getting a divorce is a life-changing decision. There are severe financial consequences, and it may take an emotional toll on you and your family. This is why it’s imperative to hire an experienced and competent Greenville divorce attorney to represent you.
It makes sense to consult a professional in family law. Most competent and skilled divorce lawyers offer an initial consultation to discuss your case. During this initial consultation, you must ask pertinent questions to determine whether the attorney is right for your situation and what you should expect during the divorce process. Below are crucial questions to ask a divorce lawyer in South Carolina.
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How Long Have You Practiced Divorce Law?
Nothing can substitute experience. Knowing the local rules, the judges, and opposing attorneys is invaluable. Also, having actual trial experience is beneficial for a divorce attorney, as well as experience in drafting and negotiating Courts Orders, Separation Agreements, and Pleadings.
Practicing law as opposed to just knowing the law is to some extent, trial and error and a process of becoming a better lawyer. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire new divorce attorneys. Often, recent law school graduates bring fresh energy, strong knowledge of the family law and recent technology, and are generally less expensive than experienced attorneys. But hiring a new attorney is risky.
Whatever the case, it’s essential to know how long your divorce attorney has been practicing family law before hiring them.
How Much Will A Divorce Cost?
The cost of a divorce varies depending on the circumstances. The filing fee for a divorce is $150, and the lawyer’s hourly rates vary.
Additionally, the number of hours a divorce attorney spends on a case depends on the situation. For instance, if there is a lot of assets to divide or if the parties can’t agree and the case has to go to trial, then the amount of time a lawyer spends on the case will likely increase. Mostly, attorneys charge hourly for contested divorce cases, and the more time an attorney works on a case, the more it costs.
What is My Divorce Process Going to be Like?
The divorce process varies depending on the circumstances. Long-term marriages with minor children, asset entanglement, and marital debt result in complicated and time-consuming divorce than short-term marriages without children and assets. Also, couples who work together when negotiating divorce terms, such as child custody, child support, property division, debt allocation, and spousal support experience a less expensive and less painful divorce than couples who can’t reach an agreement or those who refuse to work together.
South Carolina divorce procedures can be daunting. Before a Family Court can order a divorce or separation, its jurisdictions must be defined in accordance with the South Carolina Code Ann. 20-3-30. The party filing for a divorce must have resided in South Carolina for at least one year before the divorce commencement. If the person isn’t a South Carolina resident, the other spouse must have resided in the state for at least one year before the filing, or both parties must have been South Carolina residents for at least three months before the filing of the divorce petition.
Grounds for divorce in South Carolina include:
- Physical cruelty
- Desertion for at least one year
- Habitual drunkenness, this ground for divorce must include habitual drunkenness due to the use of any narcotic drugs; or
- One-year separation. South Carolina is a No-Fault Divorce state. This ground for divorce requires the divorcing couple to live in separate residences for one year. The Family Court doesn’t consider sleeping in separate bedrooms in the same house as part of the separation. A third-party must corroborate the physical separation at the divorce hearing.
To commence the divorce process, one spouse must file a Complaint for Divorce. Once it’s filed, it must be served to the other party along with summons. The Summons notify the Defendant that a divorce action has been filed by the Plaintiff, and they must accept and respond to the Complaint for Divorce. The Defendant must respond to the Complaint for Divorce, this allows the Defendant to state any complaints or defense they may have related to the claims in the Complaint.
If the divorcing spouses reach an agreement, then they can sign a Settlement Agreement to divide the property, debts, and liabilities. Additionally, the Divorce Agreement settles issues of child custody, support, and visitation.
However, if the parties can’t agree on a settlement, the litigation process begins, which can be complex and time-consuming. At this stage, it’s crucial to consider hiring a Greenville divorce lawyer to represent you.
Will I Get Alimony or Child Support After the Divorce?
In South Carolina, during divorce proceedings, or after such proceedings, the family court may grant alimony or separate maintenance and child support in such amounts and for such terms as the family law court deems appropriate. A family court may order alimony or support for a definite or indefinite amount of time.
Some factors that influence the court’s decision include:
- Financial resources of both parties, including separate estates of each party.
- The ability of each spouse to meet their needs independently, including any dependent child or children of each party.
- The ability of each spouse to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage is the main goal of alimony payments, and so, the earning ability, job skills, and job market for each spouse’s profession are largely considered during alimony cases.
- The time needed to get adequate education or training to increase the dependent spouse’s earning ability.
Child custody, and any child support required between divorcing parties, are two other factors that influence the amount and consideration of alimony. Additionally, any other factors that the family court deems relevant to the case, whether monetary or social, will also be taken into consideration. Finally, if the two parties can’t agree on alimony and child support, a judge will make the final decision.
How Will it be Decided Who Gets Custody of our Children?
When you divorce your spouse, the family court may have to decide how you and your spouse will share the responsibilities for your children. You and your spouse can reach your own agreements regarding child custody, but if you can’t, a judge will design a custody arrangement based on your children’s best interests. A family law judge will review the following factors to better understand your family situation:
- The age, mental and physical health of each party
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The ability of each party to provide a safe, stable, and enriching environment to the child
- The child’s preference depending on their age, maturity, and understanding
- Either party’s history of domestic violence
- The ability of each party to be actively involved in the child’s life
- The child’s cultural and spiritual background
- The relationship of the child with extended family members and siblings
- If the child has any special needs
- Either party’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the child’s other parent, and
Family courts aren’t limited to considering the above factors. However, a parent’s gender can’t be the basis of denying or awarding child custody. Thus, mothers don’t have an automatic advantage in custody battles, but a parent who has acted as the child’s primary caregiver is more likely to get custody, regardless of their gender.
What is the Process of Dividing Marital Assets?
South Carolina divides marital property through equitable distribution, which means that the court tries to divide marital assets fairly and equitably between the spouses. South Carolina law states that any that is acquired or is a direct result of labor and investments of both parties during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution. Equitable distribution doesn’t mean marital assets are distributed equally; it’s divided fairly between the two spouses.
During marital property division, courts consider the following factors:
- Each party’s share of marital assets
- The monetary and economic situation of each party
- The conduct of each party including marital misconduct
- The value of the marital assets and whether each spouse will support minor children
Finally, non-marital property or property acquired by one spouse before the marriage or property acquired by a spouse intended not to be considered as marital property isn’t subject to equitable distribution.
Contact A Greenville Divorce Attorney Today!
If you want a Greenville divorce attorney who will listen to you and get the best possible results for you, Contact Greenville Family Attorneys today. We are patient and compassionate when discussing your divorce case with you. Our team of dedicated and experienced divorce attorneys will protect your rights, and we will help you make legal decisions that will affect your future. Our divorce attorneys have decades of experience handling divorce cases across South Carolina and are ready to help you get the best outcome. Contact us today at (864) 475-9393, or chat with us online for a free consultation to discuss your options moving forward.