Information About Divorce In South Carolina
No one thinks they will get divorced, but divorce statistics indicate that over half of American marriages end in divorce. If you are thinking about filing a South Carolina divorce, you need help from a South Carolina divorce attorney.
Hiring a South Carolina divorce lawyer
South Carolina divorce lawyers can guide you through any type of divorce. Filing a South Carolina divorce can be complicated and emotionally taxing. Let a South Carolina divorce lawyer act as your legal advocate and negotiate the best possible South Carolina divorce.
South Carolina divorce lawyers can help with all divorce issues including: South Carolina alimony, South Carolina child support and child custody arrangements and property distribution. South Carolina divorce attorneys can make sure your understand South Carolina divorce law and help protect you and your family.
Children and Divorce in South Carolina
The state of South Carolina uses the Income Shares Model for calculating child support payments. The assumption under this model is that the child should receive the same proportion of their parent’s income that they would have received if their parents had not divorced. After the support amount is calculated the amount paid by each parent is offset if one of the parents is the custodial parent of the child.
South Carolina courts may decide to award a different South Carolina child support amount if they can prove the amount calculated from the guidelines is unjust or unfair. Prior to adjusting the child support payment amount they must consider a variety of factors including:
- How many children the family has to support
- Equitable distribution of property
- Additional educational costs for the child
- Family debts
- Whether there are extraordinary medical or dental costs for the child
- Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees
- Whether one parent has other dependents which they are currently supporting
- If there is significant available income for the child
- If the noncustodial parent’s income is substantially less than the custodial parent
- If either parent is receiving alimony
- Any agreements which have been made between the two parties
More detailed information can be found in South Carolina Code of Laws chapter 3; Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-40, 20-7-100.
Custodial parents who need help obtaining child support can get help from South Carolina’s Child Support Enforcement which is a division of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. Child Support Enforcement can help custodial parents with the following:
- Enforcing South Carolina child support orders
- Establishing paternity
- Reviewing South Carolina child support orders
- Locating noncustodial parents
Parents who refuse to pay South Carolina child support orders may face severe consequences. South Carolina’s Child Support Enforcement Agency may:
- File contempt of court proceedings, which may result in a jail sentence of the noncustodial parent if they are found in contempt of court.
- Withhold child support payment from the noncustodial parent’s wages or unemployment benefits
- Withhold income tax refunds
- Revoke the noncustodial parents drivers license
- Pursue federal prosecution where the noncustodial parent lives out of state.
Child support enforcement Information obtained from the South Carolina’s Child Support Agency’s website.
South Carolina Child Custody Law
Child custody issues are often the most contentious and emotional legal issues which must be decided in a South Carolina divorce. Most parents want what is best for their children, but often they are unable to agree on a South Carolina child custody arrangement. If parents can not agree on a South Carolina child custody arrangement the courts will be forced to make that decision for them.
The current preference for most courts is to allow joint custody, but this arrangement is only allowed if the courts determine it is in the best interest of the child. South Carolina courts do not assume that either parent is better suited to have custody of the child regardless of their sex, but they will evaluate several factors to make their determination.
- If the child is old enough to have a reasonable preference the court will give their preference consideration. The child’s age, maturity level and experience will give weight to their preference.
- If either parent has committed physical or sexual violence against the child or other parent
- The court will also consider who has had the primary responsibility for caring for the child during the marriage.
If you and your spouse need help arranging a child custody agreement, it may be a good idea to talk to a South Carolina divorce lawyer. More information about South Carolina child custody laws can be found in
the Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-100, 20-7-1520.
South Carolina Divorce Laws
South Carolina divorce petitioners, who are filing a South Carolina divorce, must meet either fault or no-fault grounds. Petitioners must also state their grounds in their Petition for Divorce. All South Carolina divorce grounds must be proven either by testimony or evidence in a South Carolina court.
South Carolina divorces may be granted on “no-fault” grounds if the spouses have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year.
South Carolina divorces may be granted on “fault” grounds for any of the following reasons:
· Willful desertion for a period of one year
· Cruel or barbarous treatment
· Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
· Adultery – Adultery is committed if one spouse has voluntary sexual relations with someone other than their spouse.
More information for grounds for a South Carolina divorce can be found in the Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-10. Filing for a South Carolina divorce can be complicated, and South Carolina divorce laws vary from other states. Contact a South Carolina divorce lawyer if you need more information about whether or not you can file a South Carolina divorce.
South Carolina Divorce Residency Requirements
South Carolina, like all other states, has very specific requirements for filing a South Carolina divorce. Failure to meet the South Carolina divorce residency requirements may result in the South Carolina court dismissing your case. Most couples will not have to worry about South Carolina divorce residency requirements unless they have recently moved or they are planning to move.
South Carolina divorce residency requirements require:
- The petitioner of a South Carolina divorce must have resided in South Carolina for at least one year prior to the commencement of the divorce action. If the divorce petitioner is a nonresident, the defendant must have resided in South Carolina for one year, provided that both parties are residents of South Carolina when the divorce action is commenced; the petitioner must have lived in South Carolina three months prior to the commencement of the South Carolina divorce action.
More information concerning South Carolina divorce residency requirements can be found in the Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-30, 20-3-60, 20-3-80.
Alimony in South Carolina
Alimony refers to spousal support or maintenance after the South Carolina divorce is final. Alimony is not guaranteed in a South Carolina divorce, and the amount awarded, if any, may be influenced by the distribution of marital property. South Carolina courts will evaluate a variety of factors before assessing the need for South Carolina alimony including:
- The ages of each spouse
- The length of the South Carolina marriage
- The mental and physical health of each spouse
- The educational background and employment status of each spouse and their ability to produce their own income and become self-supporting
- The standard of living in which each spouse has been accustomed during the marriage
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The current expenses of each spouse
- The current assets of each spouse
- The existence of any other spousal support obligations of either party to previous spouses
- Any other factor the South Carolina court deems relevant to their decision
South Carolina courts have wide latitude in determining alimony payments and unlike child support payments, alimony or spousal support payment amounts are not established by state statutes. If you have questions concerning the amount of South Carolina spousal support you may be entitled to receive or be forced to pay, contact a South Carolina divorce lawyer. More information about calculating alimony payments in South Carolina can be found in the Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-120, 20-3-130, 20-3-140.368081
South Carolina Annulments
Annulments, while still allowed under South Carolina law, have become less common as the stigma for divorce has decreased. South Carolina annulments are different than a South Carolina divorce because instead of terminating the marriage contract, an annulment makes the marriage void or like it did not exist. South Carolina annulments may be granted for a variety reasons, but establishing cause for an annulment can be difficult.
South Carolina allows an annulment for the following reasons:
- Mental Incapacity – If a spouse is mentally incapacitated and unable to enter into the marital contract, the South Carolina marriage may be annulled.
- Underage Marriage – If either spouse was under the legal age to consent to the marriage, the marriage may be annulled.
- Fraud – If either spouse has misrepresented himself in the marriage or tricked the other spouse into marrying him, the marriage may be annulled.
- Impotent – If the marriage can not be consummated due to a spouse’s impotency, the marriage may be annulled.
- Duress – If a spouse was forced or threatened to marry, the marriage can be annulled.
- Venereal Disease – If a spouse was infected with a sexually transmitted disease, the marriage may be annulled.
Annulling a marriage may be complicated. Many annulments must be requested within a specific time period to be valid. Contact a South Carolina divorce lawyer if you have questions about your ability to annul your South Carolina marriage.
Legal Separation in South Carolina
South Carolina does not specifically allow for “legal separation” but couples may live apart and separate without filing for a South Carolina divorce by filing a petition for separate maintenance and support. For couples seeking reconciliation or who choose not to divorce for religious reasons, living apart and signing the petition for separate maintenance and support may allow them to maintain the benefits of marriage while living separately.
The petition for separate maintenance and support allows the court to decide important legal issues such as how to divide marital assets, what type of alimony may be awarded and who will have custody of the children. Petitions for separate maintenance and support are legal documents and prior to establishing or agreeing to any issues it is important to talk to a South Carolina Divorce attorney.