Family law is the legal field covering issues to do with family relationships ranging from divorce to termination of parental rights. Without the legal assistance of an Anderson family law attorney, most of these topics can get confusing.
It is in your best interest to involve a qualified and competent Anderson family law attorney in your domestic disputes whether it is a divorce, legal name change, child custody, or any other family-related dispute. Some of these cases involve making tough decisions and can get contentious.
At Hernandez & Cabra we have qualified family case lawyers in Anderson, South Carolina. We are ready to help you get through any family dispute. If you need advice on the best way forward, reach out to us at 864-501-4384 so that we can evaluate your case.
What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?
Generally, family law cases involve spousal, children, and parental issues in the domestic sphere. South Carolina family law cases govern domestic matters including:
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
Divorce is the process by which couples dissolve or terminate their marriage. Typically there are two types of divorce; contested and uncontested divorce. A contested divorce is when couples fail to agree to most of the issues regarding the divorce like the termination itself, alimony, child custody, and property division. As couples try to sort out the disagreements, many divorces turn from contested to an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces generally take longer as a judge would have to decide after trial.
Uncontested divorce on the other hand are marriage terminations where both spouses consent to the terms and conditions of the divorce. They don’t involve lengthy procedures like trial and discovery.
Parental Rights, Child Custody, and Child Support
Family law helps to solve child support, custody, and parental rights after the dissolution of marriage. It covers areas dealing with the parents’ right and duty to raise their children through education and upbringing.
In situations such as neglect, incarceration of the parent, abandonment, abuse, incapability to discharge parental responsibilities, parental rights can be terminated. The court will also decide who will get custody of the children as well as the financial responsibilities of the spouses. South Carolina uses the spouses’ earning capacity and financial strength to decide the amount of child support each parent will contribute.
Spousal Support and Alimony Agreements
Another area that family law covers is alimony and spousal support. In South Carolina, either spouse is eligible for alimony as long as they are legally married. You can petition to receive alimony if you are not self-supporting and cannot maintain a reasonable lifestyle by yourself.
A South Carolina court will only grant maintenance or spousal support if you are unable to support yourself. The amount and duration of alimony you can get in South Carolina depends on the following factors determined by the court:
- The age of petitioning spouse.
- The physical and emotional condition of the petitioning spouse.
- Earning capability of the spouse petitioning for divorce.
- The ability of the receiving spouse to meet his or her needs
- Duration of marriage
Legal Name Changes in South Carolina
South Carolina family courts allow both adults and children to change their name legally through a name change case. With the help of a South Carolina family law attorney, you can file a petition to change your name with the District Court in the jurisdiction you live in.
Domestic violence in South Carolina occurs when a member of your family or household or a former partner causes you physical injury, sexually abuses you, forcefully imprisons you, or threatens to commit any of the aforementioned acts.
A South Carolina court may grant a restraining order or a full protection order to protect you from domestic violence after a court hearing attended by the victim. Once the court issues a restraining order there will be no form of contact or communication between you and your abuser. An Anderson family law attorney can help to ensure that this is handled properly.
Adoption and DSS Cases
DSS and adoption cases focus on child neglect and abuse. A South Carolina court may strip parents of their parental rights if it finds them guilty of child abuse and neglect. A South Carolina family court can also help individuals looking to become legal parents of a child by granting an adoption.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina?
Grounds for divorce refer to legally acceptable reasons to terminate a marriage. In South Carolina, the following are legal grounds for divorce:
- Physical abuse
- Perpetual drunkenness
- No-fault (living apart for at least a year).
South Carolina doesn’t recognize cruelty or mental abuse as a basis for divorce. Speak with one of our Anderson family law attorneys to learn more.
How Do You Start the Divorce Process in South Carolina?
To file for a divorce, you must have resided in South Carolina for not less than one year before the commencement of the divorce. If one spouse is not a South Carolina resident, the other spouse must have been living of South Carolina for not less than a year. If both spouses are South Carolina residents, both must have been living in South Carolina for not less than three months before the commencement of the divorce action.
First, the plaintiff (spouse) files a Complaint for divorce and the defendant (the other spouse) is served with the Complaint along with a Summons. Once the defendant is served with a Complaint for Divorce, he or she must file a response so that the defendant can state any defenses or complaints he or she has regarding the Complaint.
If both parties can reach an agreement, they can divide the property including marital assets, debts, and liabilities by signing a Settlement Agreement. This agreement can also be used to sort child custody, support, and visitation matters.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement, they commence the litigation process. This process can be lengthy and complex, this is why you should consider hiring an Anderson family law attorney to help with your divorce case.
How Does the Division of Property Work in South Carolina?
Division of marital property is one of the most contentious issues that need sorting out. More often than not, money and property are the main reasons for divorce, to begin with, and it can be very difficult to reach a workable and peaceable agreement between the partners on how to share the property. This situation gives the decision-making mandate to the court.
In South Carolina, marital property cannot be automatically divided 50/50 between the partners since it is not a community property state. Marital property in South Carolina is divided fairly and equitably. While some cases might warrant a 50/50 division, some other cases might be more practical with one partner keeping a little more than the other.
Courts look at the following factors when dividing marital property:
- The length of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s age and health conditions.
- The worth of the marital estate
- The taxes involved in the proposed property division.
- The marital conduct of either spouse.
- Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, and appreciation of marital property
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity.
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
The court may also consider any other factors that it deems relevant.
How is Child Custody Decided?
In South Carolina, there is no presumption favoring one spouse over the other. Both spouses have full custody of minor children had in marriage unless the family court decides otherwise.
Factors that determine who will get custody include:
- The child’s temperament and developmental needs
- The parents’ disposition and capacity to understand and meet the child’s needs
- The child’s preferences
- The parents’ wishes regarding custody
- The child’s past and current relationship with each parent, siblings, and any other person who might affect the child’s best interest
- Any coercive or manipulative behavior by the parents to involve the child in the dispute.
- Any effort by either parent to belittle the other in front of the child.
- Each parent’s ability to lead an active role in the child’s life.
- The child’s relationship with the parents and siblings
- The character and circumstances of all involved parties
- The child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
- Any records of domestic violence.
What is Alimony and How is it Decided?
Alimony is the payment that a family court orders one spouse to pay the other after the termination of a marriage. The obligation to financially support your spouse does not end with the dissolution of marriage as many believe.
A South Carolina court will consider the following factors before deciding the amount, type, and duration of alimony:
- Lengthiness of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s age at the time of marriage and divorce.
- Each spouse’s physical and emotional condition.
- Each spouse’s current earnings and future earning potential.
- The current and future expenses and needs of each spouse.
- Marital misconduct or fault.
- Tax consequences to each spouse.
- Whether either spouse has a court order to support another child or spouse, and
- Whatever else the court considers relevant.
Contact Our Experienced Anderson Family Law Attorneys Today!
Family law cases often get contentious. Working with an Anderson family law attorney can help you avoid a time-consuming court process and make decisions in the best interest of all involved parties.
If you are looking to commence any South Carolina family law case, you should strongly consider speaking to an Anderson family law attorney at Hernandez & Cabra first. We are proficient and experienced enough to get you through the complicated family law processes with little hassle.
Call Hernandez & Cabra at 864-501-4384 today to understand your case and the legal options available.