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Going through a divorce or trying to come to an agreement on child custody issues can be stressful and upsetting. At Klok Law, we strive to help our clients find sure footing and gain ground, to reach their desired goals. Balanced by our background in complex litigation and settlement negotiations, we will analyze, evaluate and prepare the strongest position we can for your case. Klok Law provides legal services in the family law area:
  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Alimony
  • Adoption
  • Name Changes

Your choice of lawyer is one of the most important factors when divorce seems inevitable. Your lawyer's primary job is to represent you and your interests in the legal proceedings, documentation, and court proceedings required for divorce in South Carolina. You lawyer must properly advise you of your legal rights and obligations so that you can fully understand what divorce involves. Your lawyer must also advise you how the court might proceed if an agreement with your spouse cannot be reached.

Some lawyers charge a set fee for a simple, uncontested divorce. However, most divorces are contentious so the fee for usually depends on how much time the lawyer spends working on your divorce. In some divorces, the judge can order one spouse to pay some or all of the other spouse's legal fees and expenses. Your lawyer should discuss and estimate the probable fees involved in your case and any payment plans they may offer.

They should also help you understand how South Carolina structures divorce settlements including:

  • Grounds for Divorce
  • Family Court Procedures
  • Separation Agreements
  • Division of Marital Assets
  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Alimony.

SOUTH CAROLINA GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

There are five grounds for divorce recognized in South Carolina:
  1. separation of the spouses for at least one year (sometimes called the "no-fault divorce"),
  2. adultery,
  3. physical cruelty,
  4. habitual drunkenness (alcohol or narcotic drugs)
  5. and desertion.

Your lawyer will help you establish the proof you need to convince the court to grant you a divorce based on one of these five reasons. A third party will probably be required to testify. South Carolina state law specifies that a family court judge must make a specific finding that reconciliation is impossible before a divorce can be granted.

SOUTH CAROLINA FAMILY COURTS

Family courts must handle all divorce proceedings in South Carolina including issues of child support, alimony, custody, visitation and division of marital assets. Family courts may also grant a petition to allow a person to resume use of their maiden or previous name.

PROCEDURE

Once your lawyer has drawn up the necessary documentation, the formal divorce process starts with the service of a summons and complaint. The defendant has 30 days after being served to file a formal written response and to file any counterclaims. The judge may order the parties to attend mediation to attempt to resolve the issues, especially custody and visitation. If the spouses have agreed to settle their case amicably, the court may hold an abbreviated hearing. If not, then they may present evidence at a trial to show cause as to why the court should grant relief to the aggrieved party. There is a two month waiting period after service of Summons and Complaint before a divorce action can go to trial and three months before a Decree can be issued except in cases involving separation,.

SEPARATION

In South Carolina, separation officially begins on the day that the spouses no longer live together. Once you have separated officially, you can apply to the court for the right to live separate and apart even if you have not established grounds for divorce,. This is called and an action for "separate maintenance and support." At this time, the judge may considers issues of alimony, child support, custody, and division of marital property.

DIVORCE AGREEMENTS

Sometimes spouses are able to work out their divorce agreement without the intervention of the court. When this happens, a couple has settled their issues and their lawyers will document the agreement and present it to the court so that the judge may formally approve the agreement.

EQUITABLE DIVISION

If the couple can't agree on a fair way to divide their marital assets, the judge will make that decision. In South Carolina, marital property may includes all assets or debts acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions such as inherited property or gifts from outside the marriage. Your lawyer will advise you on what is considered marital property. You will want to make a list for your lawyer of all martial assets, the approximate value of each of these assets, when and how they were acquired, any debts either spouse may owe. Include copies of recent tax returns, insurance policies, and estimate your monthly living expenses.

CUSTODY AND VISITATION

When there is a dispute between spouses as to who should have custody of their minor children the judge will step in and make that decision in the best interests of the children. Custody litigation frequently becomes a contentious, expensive, and emotional matter. So each spouse should look honestly at their future living conditions, time, and other resources to carefully evaluate which parent can provide a better home for their children. Neither father or mother automatically has a legal right to custody. The judge may order joint or shared custody and children at an appropriate level of maturity may express their preference to the court. The judge may order that guardians ad litem represent the interests of minor children in court proceedings.

SUPPORT

In South Carolina, either spouse may be awarded monetary support (alimony) from the other. Court ordered alimony can be paid in installments or one lump sum. By law, both spouses have the responsibility to provide financial support for their children. The noncustodial parent usually must pay a specified amount of child support to the other parent.
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