We have four fault grounds; adultery, habitual drunkenness (which includes drug abuse), physical cruelty and desertion. We also have the no fault ground of living separate and apart in excess of one year. The one year begins to run from the date of your actual separation.
We can file an action for a Decree of Separate Support and Maintenance. It is important that a person seeks legal advice prior to separating to protect themselves and their children.
The law provides that a final hearing can be held in a fault ground divorce case 90 days after the filing of an action. However, due to family court docket restraints in the Upstate of South Carolina divorce actions generally take longer depending on the complexity of the case.
There are many factors which effect custody which include who has been the primary caretaker for the child. Our most difficult cases involve custody of children. Often the parent who has the children immediately following the parent’s separation wins custody, therefore it is imperative that if you want custody of your children you keep them with you when you and your spouse separate.
There used to be a law in the State of South Carolina that was called the Tender Years Doctrine, which in essence said young children should be with their mother’s. That law has been abolished. The factors set forth above are what determine who will have custody. We have represented numerous fathers’ in their fight for custody.
The primary form of custody in the State of South Carolina is sole custody, which provides that one parent will make the major decisions concerning the health, welfare, and education of their minor children. In addition, our state has now recognized joint custody and split custody arrangements.
Property acquired by either party during a marriage is considered marital property, except for gifts from third parties and inheritance. All marital property is equitably divided between the parties based on specific factors.
Whether or not a person is ordered to pay alimony is determined by a number of factors generally alimony is awarded in long term marriages where there is a significant difference between the spouses current incomes.
Attorney’s fees vary based on the complexity of the case.
A Guardian is an individual appointed by the Court to represent the best interest of the minor children. They interview the parents, teachers, friends, and relatives. They also review court files, criminal reports, school materials, and DSS records. They complete a thorough unbiased and complete investigation and report their findings to the Court. The Court relies on the Guardian to provide them with the facts and make recommendations surrounding a custody dispute. They only make a recommendation to the Court concerning custody if requested by the trial judge. The Guardian’s fee is usually split between the parents.
For a variety of reasons standard visitation is not appropriate in all cases, for instance, if a parent has a drug addiction. In those cases the court may provide for daytime visitation or supervised visitation.
In the State of South Carolina we utilize the Department of Social Services Guidelines, which is a formula which looks at the parent’s gross monthly income and gives parents credits for certain expenditures such as work related daycare expenses. Child support can either be paid directly from one parent to the other or through Family Court with a 5% administrative fee added to the payment.
If a spouse had insurance during the marriage they are generally required to continue to maintain the coverage during the term of the divorce action. Following a divorce most policies will not allow ex-spouses to continue coverage; however cobra benefits may be available. The Court will generally require parents to provide medical insurance coverage for their minor children if said coverage is available through their employer. The uncovered medical expenses for minor children are divided pursuant to the Department of Social Services Guidelines which provides that the custodial parent pays the first $250.00 per year/per child thereafter the parties divide the uncovered expenses pro rata.