During economic down times, there is an old saying, “When your neighbor loses his job it’s a recession, when you lose your job it’s a depression.” A similar saying can be applied to divorce, “When your neighbor gets divorced it’s a concern, but when you get divorced it’s an epidemic.”

No one knows for certain the exact rate of divorce in the United States; however, statistics do tend to show that almost half of marriages end in divorce. Yet friends who get divorced often feel like they are sailing the ocean alone. In reality they are not sailing alone on a life raft but traveling on a crowded cruise ship, full of people going through the exact same difficult experience.

Many people have very limited interactions with attorneys and the court system in their lives and the legal process can be terrifying to those without experience. Some have enough experience with the process to believe that they can proceed without legal advice; however, pro se litigants need to understand that once the Final Order is signed it is very often too late to change anything.

Parties going through a divorce are often understandably very emotional and even the rational are prone to wild mood swings. Some want to litigate everything up to and including the salt and pepper shakers, while others simply want to walk away, paying no attention to the lasting financial consequences that could result from a failure to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement.

At the Miller Law Firm, P.A., we try to help clients make the journey a little less painful by identifying what parties can do to protect themselves at the beginning of the voyage and by helping parties realize when they need to stand up for themselves and when they may be better off ending a case.

Below are some common questions regarding divorce in South Carolina:

Do I Have the Right to a Divorce?

The first step is identifying whether you have a right to a divorce in South Carolina. There are only four Fault grounds for divorce, (1) Habitual Drunkenness (Alcohol or Drug Abuse), (2) Adultery, (3) Physical Cruelty and (4) Desertion for a Period of a Year. Practically speaking few file for a divorce on the grounds of desertion since there is also a No Fault divorce in South Carolina for couples who have lived separate and apart continuously without cohabitation for a period of over one (1) year. Each type of divorce has its own separate evidence requirements.

Do I Have to Go to Court?

In general, the answer is yes, you will have to appear in Court in order to be granted a divorce. There can be special exceptions to this rule in certain circumstances; however, clients should plan on having to attend a hearing even if they have an agreement.

Will I Lose Everything I Own?

In South Carolina, the Courts will attempt to equitably divide marital property between the parties. Factors that can impact equitable distribution are:

  • Duration of marriage
  • Marital misconduct or fault
  • Value of marital property and the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition or value of the property
  • Income of each spouse, earning potential of each spouse to the acquisition or value of property
  • Health, physical and emotional conditions of each spouse
  • Need for additional training or education
  • Nonmarital property of each spouse
  • Existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse
  • Whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded
  • Family home
  • Tax consequences
  • The existence and extent of any support obligations, from a prior marriage or for any other reason or reasons, of either party
  • Liens and any other encumbrances upon the marital property
  • Child custody arrangements and obligations at the time of entry of the order; and
  • Such other relevant factors as the trial court states

There are many factors that can impact equitable distribution, so like other areas of Family Law, there is no bright line rule governing distribution; however, the answer to whether you will lose everything is generally, no. The Court will make an equitable decision and will endeavor not to leave anyone impoverished regardless of the situation. The Miller Law Firm, P.A. can help clients identify specific assets and make a determination regarding the types of assets that would be susceptible to equitable distribution. Call the Miller Law Firm, P.A. today at (864) 527-0413.