Thursday, June 11, 2009

South Carolina Divorce Laws

Residency Requirements for Divorce in South Carolina
The spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least 1 year, unless both spouses are residents, in which case the spouse filing must only have been a resident for 3 months. There is a required 90-day delay from the time of filing to the time of the final decree of divorce. The divorce may be filed for in:
  1. the county where the defendant resides
  2. the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant does not live in South Carolina or cannot be found (or)
  3. the county where the spouses last lived together if both still live in South Carolina

Legal Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina
  1. No Fault Divorce: Living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year.
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Adultery
    2. alcoholism and/or drug addiction
    3. physical cruelty
    4. willful desertion for 1 year

Legal Separation in South Carolina
South Carolina authorizes legal separation (separate maintenance).

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in South Carolina
The court is authorized to develop and make available sample or mandatory forms for use in divorce matters. These may be available locally from the clerk of the court.

Divorce Mediation in South Carolina
The court may refer the spouses to a referee, who must make an honest effort to bring about a reconciliation between the spouses. In such cases, no divorce may be granted unless certified by the judge or the referee that the reconciliation efforts were unsuccessful. No final decree will be granted until 3 months after the initial filing of the complaint.

Divorce Property Distribution
South Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse is entitled to keep his or her non-marital property, consisting of property:

  1. which was acquired prior to the marriage
  2. acquired by gift or inheritance
  3. acquired in exchange for non-marital property
  4. was acquired due to an increase in the value of any non-marital property
All other property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, based on a consideration of the following factors:
  1. the duration of the marriage
  2. the age of the spouses
  3. any marital misconduct
  4. any economic misconduct
  5. the value of the marital property
  6. the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
  7. the income of each spouse
  8. the earning potential of each spouse and the opportunity for the future acquisition of capital assets
  9. the physical and emotional health of each spouse
  10. the needs of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve his or her earning potential
  11. the non-marital property of each spouse
  12. any retirement benefits
  13. whether alimony has been awarded
  14. the desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse having custody of any children
  15. the tax consequences
  16. any other support obligations of either spouse
  17. any marital debts of the spouses
  18. any child custody arrangements
  19. any other relevant factors

Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be awarded alimony. The factors for consideration are:

  1. the duration of the marriage and the ages of the spouses when married and when divorced
  2. the physical and emotional conditions of the spouses
  3. the educational background of each spouse and the need of additional training or education to reach the spouse's income potential
  4. the employment history and earning capacity of each spouse
  5. the standard of living during the marriage
  6. the current and expected earnings of each spouse
  7. the marital and separate property of each spouse
  8. the custody of any children and its effect on the ability of the custodial spouse to work full-time
  9. any marital misconduct
  10. any tax consequences
  11. any prior support obligations
  12. the current and expected expenses and needs of both spouses
  13. any other relevant factors
The court may require the posting of bond as security for the payment of alimony and may require a spouse to carry life insurance and name the other spouse as beneficiary.

Spouse's Name After Divorce
Upon request, the court may allow a spouse to resume the use of his or her former name.

Child Custody After Divorce
In awarding child custody, the factors for consideration are as follows:

  1. the circumstances of the spouses
  2. the nature of the case
  3. the religious faith of the parents and child
  4. the welfare of the child
  5. the best spiritual and other interests of the child
The parents both have equal rights regarding any award of custody of children.

Child Support After Divorce
Both parents have joint responsibility for child support. The court may require income withholding for the guarantee of child support payments. There are official child support guidelines which are presumed to be correct unless 1 of the following factors requires a deviation from the amount:

  1. educational expenses for the child or a spouse
  2. the equitable distribution of property
  3. any consumer debts
  4. if the family has more than 6 children
  5. unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses of either parent
  6. mandatory retirement deductions of either parent
  7. support obligations for other dependents
  8. unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses of the child
  9. other court-ordered payments
  10. any available income of the child
  11. a substantial disparity in the income of the parents which makes it impractical for the non-custodial parent to pay the guideline amount
  12. the effect of alimony on the circumstances
  13. any agreements between the spouses, if in the best interests of the child

No comments: