Bluffton Divorce Attorneys
Experienced and Aggressive Family Lawyers in South Carolina
Divorce is never easy, especially when you and your former partner disagree over how the separation will work. Conflicts involving property division, child custody, and alimony that cannot be amicably resolved will need to be settled in family court.
Our Bluffton divorce lawyers at Horton & Goodman, LLC will do everything possible to protect your interests. We have a complete understanding of family law and South Carolina’s family court system and will leverage our knowledge and resources to help you succeed in your case.
What Is the Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?
An uncontested divorce, also called a “simple” divorce, can allow couples to separate without protracted proceedings in family court. Pursuing an uncontested divorce requires that both marital parties agree on how to handle all relevant elements of the separation. It also requires that the couple that the parties live apart and not cohabitate for at least 1 continuous year.
A contested divorce will result when parties cannot agree on one or more of the following elements:
- Property division
- Debt division
- Child custody
- Child support
- Child visitation
Contested divorces can also occur when the separation is pursued on certain “at-fault” grounds. These grounds will also determine how soon you can seek a divorce.
When Can I File for Divorce in South Carolina?
How soon you can file for divorce depends on whether the divorce you are seeking is “no-fault” or “at-fault.” In a “no-fault” divorce, which is also uncontested, you and your partner must not cohabitate for a continuous period of at least 1 year.
You can potentially seek an “at-fault” divorce sooner on certain grounds recognized by the state. Grounds for an at-fault divorce in South Carolina include adultery, desertion, physical cruelty (including domestic violence), and habitual drug or alcohol abuse. At-fault divorces can be granted as soon as 90 days from the date of filing once all conflicts have been decided.
You will need to demonstrate that these factors existed and directly led to the need for a divorce. Once proven, these at-fault factors will likely also influence the decisions of the family court.
How Does a Contested Divorce Work?
When you and your ex-partner cannot agree on one or more elements of your separation, you will need to file a contested divorce. This involves bringing your case before a South Carolina family court. A judge will review evidence and hear arguments from your legal representation before making binding decisions involving the elements in dispute. By taking your divorce to family court, you accept that a judge will be making decisions about property division, debt division, child custody, and more.
Contested divorces also typically involve a discovery process. Both parties’ legal representatives will have the opportunity to request information and obtain evidence from the opposing side, such as financial records. Testimony may also be sought.
How Is Property Divided in South Carolina?
If you and your ex-spouse cannot decide on how to split property, the court will decide for you. South Carolina operates under “equitable distribution” rules, meaning that property will be divided based on what the court decides is “fair.”
Property is divided into 2 categories. Marital property includes any possessions or assets that belong to both parties and was acquired during the marriage, regardless of who actually purchased the asset or what names are on ownership documents. Non-marital property encapsulates any property that was owned by either party before the marriage (or after filing for divorce) and was never shared with the spouse. Non-marital property can become marital property if it is used in service of the marriage.
All marital property is subject to equitable distribution. The court will assess numerous factors in deciding who gets what, including the behavior of each party, each party’s contributions to the marriage, and the financial health of each party. They will also settle any disputes over what constitutes marital property versus non-marital property.
Our Bluffton divorce attorneys at Horton & Goodman, LLC will aggressively represent your interests in a contested divorce. We understand how many types of disputes are adjudicated in family court, including property division, child custody, alimony, and child support.