Family law matters especially when your family relationships are disrupted. Our experienced Simpsonville family law attorney, handle all family court matters including divorce, child custody issues, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and/or LGBTQ rights. While you focus on getting your family life back to some normalcy, we will handle the legal matter at hand.
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Emotions and tempers are usually high when what you thought would be your forever, comes to an end. Emotions and divorce don’t usually mix well so it is a good idea to use a family court mediator or hire an experienced attorney to represent your best interests in the divorce proceedings, as well as assist with additional legal proceedings that come with the dissolution of marriage. Our divorce attorneys at Greenville Family Attorneys will also handle issues of property division, granting of alimony, concerns about child custody, child support matters, etc.
When can you get a divorce in Greenville, South Carolina?
Two types of divorces are recognized in the state of South Carolina and Greenville County, no-fault divorce and fault divorce.
No-Fault Divorce in South Carolina
A no-fault divorce means that neither party is to blame for the dissolution of the marriage, typically using irreconcilable differences as grounds for filing. The couple must be legally separated for a minimum of one year to file for a no-fault divorce.
Separation Requirements in Greenville, South Carolina
A no-fault divorce requires a couple to be separated for a minimum of one year to move forward with finalizing the divorce. This required the spouses to live separately and file an official Order of legal Separation with the family court judge. This separation agreement will be granted or denied by a family court judge and settle terms regarding property division, alimony, child custody, child support, etc.
Fault Divorce in South Carolina
Fault divorce means that one spouse files for divorce and places blame on the other spouse for the end of their marriage. The State of South Carolina and Greenville County recognize four reasons as grounds for a fault divorce.
- Desertion for a period of one year
- Physical Cruelty
- Habitual Drunkenness through alcohol or narcotic drug use
South Carolina is marital property, equitable distribution state, meaning that property that was acquired while married is considered a joint asset. Joint assets are divided equitably amongst spouses. Equitably should not be confused with equality. Marital property division is based on each party’s circumstances.
Non-marital property is not considered in the equitable distribution and belongs to the declared owner. Non-martial property must be verified and can include:
- Property owned by a spouse prior to marriage
- Property inherited or gifted to one spouse
- Property excluded from marital property through a valid and legal written contract and/or prenuptial agreement
To ensure you get the equitable share you deserve in the property division negotiations, contact Greenville Family Attorneys for a free consultation.
Related Content: How to file for divorce in South Carolina
While both parents want what is best for their children, child custody matters tend to create and fuel emotional and heated responses. Seeking legal advice and representation from a child custody lawyer helps to keep the focus on the best interests of the child.
Married vs. Unmarried
If a child is born in wedlock, both parents have full child custodial rights. Both parents are joint guardians and are equally responsible for the education and welfare of the child and have equal access and rights to their children unless a family court rules otherwise.
When a child is born out of wedlock, the birth mother has sole custody and rights. If the father is acknowledged on the birth certificate, he can petition for child custody and visitation rights.
Types of custody
During a South Carolina divorce, there are different types of child custody that have to be settled either through mediation or by a judge.
- Legal custody – refers to the parental right to make decisions about the education, health, and welfare of the child(ren)
- Physical custody – refers to the child’s living arrangement and the parents’ visitation schedule
- Sole custody – one parent is awarded all rights of the child while the other parent is entitled to visitation rights
- Joint custody – children split their time between parents and have an agreed-upon detailed parenting plan
Joint custody is the preferred outcome of the South Carolina family court.
Factors that determine child custody in South Carolina
Child custody laws are designed to protect the best interests of the children in the cases of divorce and child custody disputes. It is the job of South Carolina family court to determine the best custody agreement for the child. Factors that influence the decision of the courts include but are not limited to:
- The physical and mental health of children and parents
- Child’s best interests
- Parent’s wishes / Parenting plan
- Relationship with each parent (includes each party’s parenting time)
- Childs’ school and community involvement
- Domestic violence history
- Household stability
- Financial situations
Related Content: Tips to Find the Right Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody modifications
Courts consider several factors when considering if child custody/parent rights modification is in the best interest of the child. Factors include but are not limited to:
- The mental and physical state of the children and both parents
- History of child abuse, domestic violence, or neglect of any kind.
- Relationships, past and present, between the child and the parents along with potential future relationships
- If one parent intentionally misleads the court to delay the case as a way of increasing litigation costs or to ensure the decision goes in their favor.
In the State of South Carolina, both parents have a financial responsibility to their children regardless of custody. Only in the case of the relinquishment of parental rights, does one not have that responsibility. Parents must provide the financial resources necessary for their child’s well-being. Child support is a payment determined by the courts for the child’s healthcare, education, housing, and physical needs. A child support lawyer can ensure that your payments are fair for both the payer and the payee.
How is child support calculated?
Child support guidelines and enforcement are typically handled on by the state (South Carolina) and local government (Greenville County). In South Carolina, a formula designed by the South Carolina Department of Social Services as well as other factors are considered by the family court when determining the child support payment. Factors that are considered include but may not be limited to the following:
- Health insurance / Health care expenses
- Daycare and education expenses
- Number of children being supported
- Gross income of each parent
- Child custody agreement
Child support modifications
If either parent or the child has substantial life changes, a request can be filed with the family court to modify child support. A change in a parent’s income and/or the child’s necessary expenses can increase or decrease the child support payment. Changes in the child custody agreement can also affect the amount of the child support payment. Requesting a modification in child support is easier with a child support lawyer. An experienced lawyer can advise you on what constitutes a substantial change and can help provide the correct documentation to petition the courts.
Alimony and Prenups
South Carolina is an alimony state, meaning that courts will provide a financial spousal support option in some divorces. Alimony is not awarded in all divorces. If you and your spouse cannot agree and settle spousal support, a decision will be made by a family court judge. If you are not sure if you are entitled to alimony, contact Greenville Family Attorney. Our alimony attorney will help prove eligibility for alimony.
Factors considered by the courts
- Child custody and child support agreements (if/when applicable)
- Each spouse’s education, employment history, and ability to earn
- Fault-based reasons for divorce
- Length of your marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage
- Separate and marital assets of each spouse
Alimony is typically granted to one spouse if the dissolution of the marriage leaves one spouse at a financial disadvantage and the other spouse has the means to provide spousal support. Alimony has guidelines and/or a determined time that it will be paid.
Types of Alimony
The different types of alimony determine how the alimony will be paid and whether or not the spousal support order can be modified.
- Lump-Sum Alimony – The court will order that a lump sum (set amount) will either be paid at once or in a few installments. It is important to note that a lump sum alimony award cannot be changed.
- Periodic Alimony – The court will order one spouse to pay the other an ongoing, periodic payment. The alimony award will be reviewed at a later date set by the courts, where the case will consider circumstances and either change or terminate the agreement.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – The court will order one spouse to pay the other spouse gains work experience, education, or training to earn money on their own. Alimony will terminate when the spouse receiving support is able to earn their own income.
- Reimbursement Alimony – The court ordered one spouse to reimburse the other spouse for financial or time contributions he/she made that contributed to the other’s work/education success.
- Separate Maintenance and Support – The courts may order one spouse to pay the other spouse when they live separately during the one-year separation agreement required by South Carolina law for divorce.
What is commonly addressed in a prenup agreement?
- Management of Separate and Marital property during the marriage
- Equitable distribution of property and assets
- Division of property in the event of a divorce, death, etc.
- Inherited property/assets
- Property distribution to children
- Formation of wills and trusts
These are a few examples of common agreements addressed in a prenup. One thing that cannot be addressed in a prenuptial agreement is child custody and child support. South Carolina family court is going to award child custody based on the child’s best interests.
A Valid Prenup
All prenuptial agreements are considered legal and binding by the South Carolina family courts as long as they are properly executed and valid. To ensure the validity of your prenuptial agreement, it is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure that the prenup is within the following guidelines:
- The agreement is reasonably fair
- The agreement was signed voluntarily by each spouse
- All assets and liabilities were fully disclosed by each spouse
- Financial status is fairly and accurately represented by each spouse
- The agreement terms do not promote divorce
An Invalid or Rejected Prenup
South Carolina will not acknowledge an “unconscionable contract”, or an agreement that leaves one spouse in financial hardship and the other spouse prosperous. The courts will also consider a prenuptial agreement invalid or rejected for any of the following reasons.
- Not in writing
- Not properly executed
- Not allotted sufficient time to read and understand the contract
- Invalid Provisions
- False or Incomplete Information
- Not signed of own free-will
Greenville Family Attorneys supports equality in marriage and relationships. Our legal team will provide aggressive representation to ensure that all your best interests are looked after regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.
LGBT family laws continue to change on the federal and state level. Our attorneys remain up-to-date and knowledgeable about the evolutions of the law affecting same-sex couples. Our Greenville LGBT family law attorneys proudly serve the LGBT community in South Carolina.
Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer Today
Finding the right lawyer for your case is important. You need to feel at ease throughout the entire process. We know that this is a difficult time for you and your family. At Greenville Family Attorneys, our knowledgeable family law attorney will provide you with compassionate representation while also serving your best interests. Call us today for a free consultation.