Family Law Attorney in Summerville, SC
In South Carolina, divorces can be obtained on a “no fault” basis or on fault grounds:
(1) No fault divorces may be granted on the statutory ground of 1 year’s continuous separation. This requires the parties to have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year.
(2) Divorce based on Fault may be granted on the statutory grounds of adultery; desertion for on year; physical cruelty; and habitual drug or alcohol abuse.
Child custody issues arise in a variety of contexts. Child custody issues arise during separation, divorce, and unmarried parent situations. The most important factor the Court takes in consideration in making a child custody determination is the child’s “best interests”. Courts may consider the following factors when making that determination: the relative fitness of each parent; who is the primary caretaker of the child; how much time a parent can spend with the child; each parents education and employment; each parent’s parenting skills; conduct of each parent; and the resources available to each parent.
Additionally, in a contested custody case, the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the parties child or children. The Guardian does not necessarily have to be an attorney so long as she or he meets the state mandated requirements for acting as a Guardian ad Litem.
The Court will consider all of the factors above and the recommendation of the Guardian ad Litem in determining custody.
In South Carolina, parents have a legal duty to support their children. Typically the Court will set child support for the non-custodial parent based on the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are based on the gross income of each parent and take into consideration other expenses for the children (for example, daycare, medical insurance, and other children in the home). When child support is ordered, the Court can either require the parent to pay it directly to the other parent or may require it to be paid through the Clerk of Court’s Office directly or via wage withholding. A parent’s failure to timely pay child support can subject a parent to the contempt powers of the court, which include jail time, fines, and community service..
Equitable distribution is the process of determining and dividing the marital assets and debts of the parties. Generally (but not always), property and debt acquired prior to the marriage is not considered marital property. However, non-marital property may affect an equitable distribution. The Court may consider the following factors in equitably dividing the parties’ assets and debts: length of marriage; marital and non-marital assets and debts; child custody and support; and each parties’ income.
Spousal Support or Alimony may be granted by the Court in Separate Support and Maintenance or Divorce actions. The purpose of spousal support/alimony is to try and keep the supported spouse as near as is possible to the standard of living they enjoyed prior to the breakup of their marriage. There are 4 types of spousal support/alimony: permanent periodic alimony; lump sum alimony; rehabilitative alimony; and reimbursement alimony. The Court will consider many factors in determining alimony including: length of the marriage; the parties standard of living during the marriage; the supported spouse’s need for additional education or training to support himself/herself; the supporting spouse’s ability to pay alimony; and marital misconduct. Adultery by one party is an absolute bar to a spouse receiving alimony unless the other spouse has condoned or forgiven the adultery.
Adoption actions are regulated strictly by statute. The process often involves the termination of parental rights of the biological parent or parents. Parental rights may be terminated by the consent of the biological parent or parents which requires the parent to execute a Consent and Relinquishment of Parental Rights. Additionally, parental rights may be terminated on several statutory grounds including willful failure to visit with the child for 6 months or willful failure to support the child for 6 months.
South Carolina allows people to legally change their name. However, this must be done by action filed in the Family Court. If a spouse, in a divorce action desires to resume her maiden name, she may do so in that action. However, if a name change action is not made pursuant to a divorce, a criminal background check, a DSS check (for abuse and neglect of children), and a sex offender registry check must be completed. Additionally, the petitioner must file an affidavit stating the reasons for the name change. A minor can also have his or her name changed by the Family Court, but the Court will require a Guardian ad Litem to represent the child’s best interests in such an action.
Premarital/Prenuptial Agreements. People anticipating marriage can enter into prenuptial agreements in South Carolina. Each party has to have the opportunity to have their agreement reviewed by an attorney and must receive full and complete financial disclosure from the other party prior to entering the agreement
Other Family Law Matters:
This law firm also handles the following matters in Family Court: Modification of Custody and Child Support; Contempt Proceedings (Rules to Show Cause); DSS Abuse and Neglect actions; and Juvenile cases.
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