No one enters a marriage hoping for a divorce. To many, divorce signifies a failure, a mistake. Many men and women torture themselves over what they could have done differently to make the marriage work. You are not alone.
If you believe it is time to take a hard step to file for a divorce, McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel, LLC will be with you every step.
A divorce encompasses many different areas, and one question generates another uncertainty. What property is marital property and what is not? What about my inheritance or gifts? Who has to pay the credit card debt, or mortgage, or car loans? What are we going to do with the house? How will we work out custody and visitation? What is best for the children? How will I pay my bills with only one income; or, how can I pay my bills and continue to pay my spouse’s household bills?
Unfortunately, in family law, the answers are rarely straightforward; and in family court, the process is rarely swift or without problems. Each case is uniquely different, and each case may have a very different outcome.
At McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel, LLC, we offer experienced, empathetic, and forceful divorce representation to our clients. We are committed to excellence in your divorce case while being mindful of the stress and emotional toll the process can take. Our team strives to satisfy the unique needs of our clients.
What are the Legal Reasons to File for a Divorce?
The public policy in South Carolina is that the institution of marriage is healthy for our community. Therefore, it can be harder to get a divorce in South Carolina than in other states. Our state law requires you have at least one legal reason, or “ground”, to be granted a divorce. These grounds are:
- Separation for more than one year: This ground for divorce is considered the “no-fault” ground. Here, you and your spouse have lived in separate households for more than one year, and you have not attempted to reconcile your marriage or live together, during that time. Some people wait a year to file for a divorce and all that comes with it, until after the year lapses; however, many others find it necessary or beneficial to go before a judge prior to that time to request an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support.
- Physical Cruelty: This fault ground requires proof of physical violence or abuse. Generally, the act of violence has to be extreme and severe causing the victim to be fearful of serious bodily harm or death, or it could be a pattern of physical violence that has harmed the victim and puts the victim in fear of future physical harm and bodily injury.
- Abandonment: This fault ground is where one spouse leaves the marital home and remains gone for at least one year, and where the other spouse has no knowledge of the whereabouts of the spouse who left.
- Adultery: This fault ground is when one spouse engages in a sexual relationship with another person who is not their spouse. It requires a higher standard of proof, generally. Further, the person seeking a divorce on this ground must prove with sufficient particularity the time, place, and circumstances of the infidelity. Such proof can be direct or circumstantial evidence.
- Habitual Drunkenness: In this fault ground for divorce, one must prove their spouse had a firm habit of frequently getting drunk. It can also apply to frequent abuse of prescription medicines or taking illegal drugs to such a degree that the spouse is frequently inebriated, or “high”. However, one also has to prove that the habitual drunkenness occurs close to the time of filing for divorce and it was a cause for the breakdown of the marriage.
McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel, LLC attorneys have successfully resolved many of these types of divorces. We work with our clients to ensure they are aware of what proof is necessary, and how to get such proof, if applicable. If you believe it is time to divorce your spouse, we offer professional legal guidance to assist you in preparing for your lawsuit.
What Issues Do I Need to Prepare For in the Divorce Case?
In most cases, divorce will involve addressing several issues. Before filing for divorce, it is crucial to understand the issues and potential problems that may arise.
- Child custody and visitation: In South Carolina, neither the mother nor the father have an advantage in getting custody of their children based solely on gender. Rather, the focus of the court will be to determine what is in the child’s best interest. There are numerous factors the court considers. Many times, both parents are equally competent and capable, and it is a “close call” for the court when selecting a primary parent or custodian. The court will decide whether sole, joint or shared custody is appropriate. Finally, visitation is also a major decision. There are various ways to structure visitation to maximize parenting time.
- Child support: Child Support is controlled by the South Carolina Child Support guidelines. This is a set formula that requires certain information such as gross income, health insurance premiums for the children, daycare costs, and other factors. Generally, the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child will be required to pay monthly child support to the other parent based on the guidelines. Our courts are authorized to deviate from the guidelines in certain circumstances.
- Property division: South Carolina has an equitable apportionment statute (S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-610) that sets forth fourteen factors, and a fifteenth “catch-all” provision, which it considers when determining how marital property is divided. However, the first step in this process is to determine what property is actually marital property, subject to division by the court. Generally, income and property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and, if so, will be divided regardless of who has title to the property. There are exceptions, however. Property acquired in many marriages may include real estate, bank accounts, retirement and pension accounts, investment accounts, furniture, vehicles, jewelry, art, and collectibles.
- Alimony or Spousal Support: The South Carolina alimony/support statute (S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-130) sets forth at least twelve factors the court must consider when determining whether alimony or support is appropriate. The thirteenth factor is the “catch-all” factor where the court may consider other things it deems relevant or important. In addition, there are several different types of alimony/support.
Each of the issues above can be complex, and many have exceptions or other factors the court must consider. Court-ordered decisions on these issues may have life-long consequences. It is crucial to gain experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel on these matters offered by McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel LLC.
Is a Divorce Lawyer Necessary?
Considering all that is at stake in a divorce, having competent and aggressive legal counsel could make a substantial difference in your divorce case. Even if you qualify for a “no-fault” divorce, navigating the other important matters must be carefully considered. At McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel, LLC, our experience allows us to provide our clients with a road-map of how to proceed in a way that protects you, your rights, and your children.
Mediating Your differences
The Supreme Court of South Carolina requires that all contested initial family court cases must be mediated before one can request a trial date. Even in high-conflict situations such as child custody or property division, a Lexington SC Family Law Attorney at McCutchen McLean & VanSyckel, LLC are trained to assist our clients to reach a negotiated agreement where practical and advantageous; we will guard our clients against over-zealous mediation tactics, and our clients always have the final authority on agreements.