Divorce Attorney Greenville SC – Handling Cases in Upstate SC
Going through a divorce can be a time consuming and overwhelming process. The Law Office of Brian P. Johnson is here to help you if you are going through a divorce, or considering one.
During this emotional and confusing time, it is important that you understand your rights. Moreover, it is crucial that you have the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with the best practices in divorce litigation and that you can trust to fight for you.
Each divorce is unique, and we urge you to consult us with any questions you may have about your case. However, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the legal components of a divorce.
The Divorce Process
The divorce process begins when you file a summons and a complaint with family court, which are subsequently served on your spouse. Generally, these are filed in the county in which your spouse lives. Typically, you will also file a motion for temporary relief, which allows you to get an order of separate support and maintenance (i.e. a legal separation). The legal separation allows for a temporary resolution of issues, such as custody, visitation, and property division.
After the initial filing is completed, there is a 90 day waiting period before a final divorce hearing can be requested. The grounds for divorce, and how they can be proven, are the most significant factors that affect the time frame for a final order of divorce. If it is a no fault divorce, the parties must be separated for one year before the divorce can be finalized. If there is fault, it depends on the complexity and time needed to prove the fault. The statutory recognized fault grounds include adultery, desertion for more than one year, physical cruelty, and habitual drunkenness.
Spousal and Child Support
Spousal support (alimony) is money awarded to the supported spouse to maintain the same financial position as when the parties were married. South Carolina recognizes six types of spousal support: Periodic, Lump sum, Rehabilitative, Reimbursement, Separate maintenance and support, and whatever the Court deems appropriate (as a catch all). The factors the Court will consider are listed in South Carolina Code Section 20-3-130 (please refer to my alimony blog for a complete listing).
Child support is also determined by a statute known as the South Carolina Support Guidelines. These guidelines essentially provide a math equation into which certain figures are plugged. The most common numbers/factors are the gross income of each party, work related childcare expenses, division of days with each parent, any alimony paid, and insurance costs for children. The South Carolina Department of Social Services website has a calculation tool that can help provide you with a good estimate.
Division of Debts and Assets
Marital property, including both debts and assets, are generally divided equally between the parties. This is called equitable distribution. The process is governed by the Equitable Apportionment of Marital Property Act, or South Carolina Code Section 20-3-620(B). The general rule is that debts and assets which are acquired during a marriage are marital property, while debts and assets acquired prior to a marriage are non marital property. For a more in depth explanation, please refer to my blog.
Debts and assets acquired before marriage can become marital property through a process called transmutation. Transmutation occurs when it can be shown that there was intent for nonmarital property to be marital property. The most common example is when a home, which is owned by one spouse prior to marriage, becomes the couple’s primary marital residence.
Costs & Fees
Most attorneys charge an hourly fee and request a retainer fee as a down payment towards these hours. Often the retainer fee covers the hours needed for a simple or uncontested divorce. If a trial is necessary, your lawyer will discuss this with you.
Other fees to consider are: child support, alimony, fees for a Guardian Ad Litem (a professional who represents the child/children in highly contested custody cases), and administrative and filing fees ($150 to file and $25 for the temporary relief motion).
Generally, the temporary hearing will set the parameters while the parties anticipate a final order of divorce because the decisions are memorialized in a court order. These orders are enforceable by the contempt powers of the court and therefore serve as guidelines of conduct.
You can revert back to your maiden name in a relatively easy process during divorce proceedings if you changed your last name as a result of marriage. This is pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 20-3-180. “Change of name after divorce or separation.” However, there are some limitations if you are on certain registries for abuse or neglect, have been convicted of a crime, or are on an anti-terrorist watch list.
Where to file?
There are two (2) considerations when it comes to where to file: Jurisdiction and Venue. Simply stated, Jurisdiction has to do with whether the state of South Carolina can hear the case, while Venue has to do with what county in the state. Jurisdiction is ruled by SC Code Section 20-3-30. There is some complexity, but generally South Carolina has Jurisdiction if both parties live in the state or if one party has lived in the state for one (1) year. Venue is ruled by SC Code Section 20-3-60. It essentially states that if you both reside in South Carolina you generally file in the county where your spouse lives (if you don’t live in the same county). However, if your spouse lives out of state, then you file in the county where you live.
For example, if both parties live in Greenville County, South Carolina, then you would file with the Greenville County Clerk of Court. On the other hand, if the filing party lives in Spartanburg but the spouse lives in Greenville County, then you would file with the Greenville County Clerk of Court. Finally, if you live in Greenville, South Carolina and have lived here for more than one (1) year but your spouse lives in North Carolina, then again, you would file with the Greenville County Clerk of Court.
Time to Act
Now is the time to hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate your case successfully. The Law Office of Brian P. Johnson has handled numerous divorce cases, and we work hard to achieve positive outcomes for our clients as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Please remember that each case is unique, and we urge you to call us with any questions that you may have.
In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours, easy appointment scheduling, and payment plans available. Call today and schedule your free confidential consultation.
Our law office serves people across the Upstate, South Carolina, including: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, and Oconee counties.