Family law encompasses a variety of legal issues, including divorce, child custody, adoption, alimony, and prenuptial agreements. In South Carolina, family law has a variety of unique rules and regulations that can be difficult to understand. At Sentinel Law Firm, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of family law in South Carolina.
Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of ending a marriage. In general, South Carolina a couple must be living separate and apart for at least 12 months before they can obtain a divorce. Of course, the filing can happen sooner than 12 months of separation, however there will likely not be any court order granting a divorce until after the 12-month mark. It is important to note that the term separate and apart does not include staying in separate rooms in one residence. The parties must be living at separate residences to be legally considered living separate and apart.
In South Carolina, there are two types of divorce: no-fault and fault based. In a no-fault divorce, the couple does not have to prove that one spouse is at fault for the marriage ending. Instead, they only need to be living separate and apart for 12 months, and then they can file to obtain a divorce. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. South Carolina recognizes adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness or drug use, or desertion as grounds for fault-based divorce.
One of the main differences between no-fault and fault-based divorce is the waiting period to obtain the divorce. While there is typically the requirement for living apart for at least 12 months before obtaining the divorce, if the divorce is fault based then the requirement for the waiting period no longer applies. Whether a divorce is fault based or not also affects aspects of the separation like the division of the assets, alimony, or child custody.
If a divorce is based on adultery, then the division of the assets could be changed based on whether the adulterer used marital assets in the course of the adultery. For example, if the cheating spouse used the joint bank account to buy a gift for their paramour, then that at-fault spouse’s share of the assets could be reduced by how much the gift cost. If a divorce is based on physical abuse, then the abusive spouse could lose primary custody of their child because of their abuse. For help with abuse, visit Greenville’s Domestic Violence Community Resources.
Child custody is the legal process of determining who has physical and legal custody of a minor child when the parents are not legally married. In South Carolina, the court will consider several factors when deciding who has custody of the child, with the largest factor being the best interests of the child. To determine what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider factors such as the age of the child, the relationship between the parents and the child, the ability of the parents to provide a stable home, the mental and physical health of the parents, the location of each parent, among other factors.
Each custody case is unique, and there is never any guarantee on how a case will turn out. The court’s top priority is to ensure the child is placed in the best possible position to grow and thrive. A court’s decision on custody does not prevent a parent from seeking a change if there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Child support is a payment made by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help cover the cost of raising a child. In South Carolina, the parent who has physical custody of the child is typically the one who receives the child support payments. However, it is important to understand that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children. No matter the circumstances, parents are responsible for providing a stable and comfortable life for their children.
The amount of child support is determined by a variety of factors, including both parent’s incomes, the number of children, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and any other special circumstances. The court will also consider the cost of health insurance and daycare. The formula is designed to ensure that each parent is paying an equitable amount of support.
The amount of child support that is ordered by the court is not set in stone. It is possible for the amount of support to be modified if either parent experiences a significant change in their financial situation. It is important to remember that child support payments are court-ordered and must be paid in a timely manner. If a parent fails to make their court-ordered payments, they could face serious consequences, including wage garnishment or even jail time.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the payment of financial support from one party to the other typically after a divorce is finalized. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to the receiving spouse, so they can maintain a lifestyle similar to the one they had before the divorce. In South Carolina, the court has the power to award alimony if it finds that it is appropriate and necessary.
When determining alimony, the court will consider such factors as the length of the marriage, the health of the parties, their respective incomes, and the standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage. The court will also take into account the need of the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient, as well as any contributions made by the parties during the marriage, including child support payments. Whether a divorce is fault-based can also impact alimony amount.
In South Carolina, there are five types of alimony that can be awarded: permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, lump-sum alimony, temporary alimony, and reimbursement alimony. Permanent alimony is when the court orders one spouse to make payments to the other for an indefinite period of time. Rehabilitative alimony is when payments are made over a period of time to help one spouse become financially independent. Lump-sum alimony is when a one-time payment is made to one spouse. Temporary alimony is when payments are made to one spouse while a divorce is pending, and reimbursement alimony is when one spouse pays the other spouse back for money they used to support the other spouse during the marriage.
In South Carolina, there are several types of adoption available. This includes stepparent adoption, agency adoption, and private adoption. All three of these options require the approval of the South Carolina Department of Social Services and must abide by state laws.
Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption in South Carolina and occurs when a stepparent wants to legally adopt their stepchild. This is a relatively simple process, but there are still certain requirements that must be met. For instance, the biological parent whose rights are being terminated must consent to the adoption and the stepparent must demonstrate financial stability and provide proper care for the child.
Agency adoption is when an adoptive parent uses a public or private agency to facilitate the adoption. The child being adopted may be a relative of the adoptive parents or may be unrelated to them. The adoptive parents must meet certain criteria, such as being financially stable, providing a safe and loving home for the child, and completing an approved home study.Finally, private adoption is when a couple or individual adopts a child from a private source, such as a family member or a friend. A court-appointed lawyer must be involved in the process and the adoptive parents must meet all of the requirements for a successful adoption.
When it comes to marriage, discussing prenuptial agreements is rarely an easy conversation. But it is becoming more common to have prenuptial agreements between couples getting married.
Prenuptial agreements are legally binding contracts that outline how a couple’s assets, debts, and property will be divided in the event of divorce. Prenuptial agreements can help a couple to protect their individual assets, as well as those they have acquired together during the marriage. By having a prenuptial agreement in place, couples can avoid the stress and expense of a lengthy and costly divorce process.
Prenuptial agreements can also provide clarity and security for couples who plan to marry in South Carolina. They can help couples make decisions about their finances before they enter into marriage, saving them from potential disagreements in the future. Additionally, prenuptial agreements can be valuable in helping couples decide how they will handle financial issues such as spousal support, child support, and debt.
At Sentinel Law Firm, we are committed to providing you with the highest quality legal services. Our are here to help you navigate the complexities of family law in South Carolina. If you have any questions about family law South Carolina, please contact us today to schedule your consultation.