Experienced Spartanburg Divorce Attorneys
In South Carolina, for cases such as divorce, and even high net worth divorces, you need an experienced professional on your side.
There are five grounds for divorce. Four are considered “fault” grounds. If you wish to file for divorce based on a fault ground, you should be prepared to demonstrate that your spouse has committed adultery or physical cruelty, abuses alcohol or drugs, or has deserted you (for more than one year).
The five grounds for divorce are:
The first grounds for divorce that is listed in South Carolina Code Section 20-3-10 is adultery. Adultery is not explicitly defined in South Carolina Code, however, adultery is typically considered as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person other than that person’s spouse. Not only does South Carolina code list adultery as one of the fault-based grounds for divorce, but Section 20-3-130 of code explains that committing adultery can also have an affect on an alimony award. Marital misconduct may also have an effect on how a court makes a determination about the division of property.
- Desertion for a Period of One Year
Another grounds for divorce is the desertion of a spouse by the other for a period of one year or more. It is important to keep in mind that in order for a divorce to successfully be pursued on the grounds of desertion, the party establish that a) the party who was deserted did not consent to the desertion and b) that the party who committed the act of desertion had no intent to return to the home. As such, a party cannot file for divorce based on desertion for all instances. For example, a court would probably deny a divorce filed on the grounds of desertion for a spouse who was not at home because they were serving in the military.
- Physical Cruelty
The third grounds for divorce is physical cruelty. If a party is seeking a divorce based on physical cruelty, it will be important that they have evidence to prove this, such as statements from witnesses or families and friends about the physical cruelty, medical records, photograph evidence, or police reports.
- Habitual Drunkenness
A person may file for divorce if their spouse is a habitual drunk. As explained by South Carolina Code, the grounds is interpreted to include “habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug.” Like the other grounds for divorce, a spouse seeking divorce based on the habitual drunkenness of their spouse will need to produce evidence.
- Living Separate and Apart (No-Fault Grounds)
The fifth grounds for divorce in South Carolina is a no-fault grounds for divorce, and refers to a situation in which a divorce is sought by a party simply because they wanta divorce, not because their spouse has committed one of the acts of fault listed above. However, in order for divorce to be granted, the party must prove that they have lived separate and apart for a period of no less than one year. The statute reads that the parties must live separately without “cohabitation,” which means that a couple cannot spend any time together intimately during the one-year period for the grounds to be valid.
For a no-fault divorce, South Carolina law requires that a couple lives in separate residences for a minimum of 12 months with no reconciliation. If you wish to file a family court action but you have no fault grounds and have not yet been separated for a year, you may file to request a Decree of Separate Maintenance.
Cost of a Divorce:
Besides the splitting of assets and debts, and one party potentially paying child support and/or alimony, divorcing couples must consider how much the process costs. According to data published by Martindale-Nolo Research, obtaining a divorce in South Carolina typically costs between $4,000 and $28,000, with the average attorney fees running $10,000.
The report also indicates that the average cost of an uncontested divorce in South Carolina is $12,600. When the spouses have minor children together, that jumps to $18,900. A divorce with alimony issues averages $17,400 while one with property division averages $17,700. Your attorney fees may include such things as time spent preparing your divorce case, court filings, copying fees for sharing documents, compensation for expert witnesses, and compensation for consultants such as custody evaluators, financial analysts, and appraisers.
Steps for a Divorce:
The papers initially filed with the court to start a divorce or separation include what’s known as a complaint. The complaint states the grounds for the divorce or separation and how the filing party wishes to proceed with financial, property, and child custody matters.
Once the pleadings are filed, your attorney will arrange to serve them upon your spouse. Your spouse will then have 30 days to answer the complaint once he or she receives it. The response, also called the answer, states agreement or disagreement with the provisions of the complaint as well as how he or she would like to proceed.
If there are temporary issues to be determined, like which party will live in the house, how parenting time with any children will be shared, and how temporary finances will be handled, a motion for temporary relief is usually filed with the initial pleadings. A temporary hearing will usually be scheduled for 3-6 weeks after filing, at which time a judge will decide on the temporary issues unless the parties are able to reach an agreement on them beforehand.
Next, you and your spouse may exchange financial and other information to help determine how the property and debt of your marriage should be divided, as well as decide on alimony, child support, and custody. If custody or visitation issues are contested, a Guardian ad Litem may be appointed to investigate the best interests of your children. If you both agree on the terms of your case, you can settle out of court. If not, the case will go to trial. Whether or not your case gets to that point, your divorce attorney at Cate Law Firm, P.A. will diligently represent your interests in family court every step of the way.
Divorce for Stay-at-Home Parents
In some cases, the spouse who is working uses the fact that they earn all the income as leverage to exert power in the relationship, and living with this dynamic for an extended period of time can make a stay-at-home spouse feel powerless. If you are in this situation and suddenly facing a divorce, you might feel trapped and wondering what to do next.
Should you get a job? Should you move out of the marital home? And what about your kids? It is not their fault that you and your spouse are splitting up, so why should they have to suffer by moving out of the house they have grown up in? There is a lot of uncertainty, and there are a lot of questions to consider. And you may not know where to turn for the right answers.
At the Cate Law Firm, P.A., we understand what you are facing, and we are here to help. Our practice is focused exclusively on family legal matters in South Carolina, and we have made it the mission of our firm to provide strong legal guidance and moral support to those who are going through the trying circumstances of divorce.
Organizing for your divorce is a daunting task in and of itself. You will need to gather all of your financial and tax records, information on house and car values, retirement and bank accounts, insurance policies, debts, etc. Create a thorough list of all your financial information and keep it in a safe place outside of your home if you are still sharing a home with your spouse. You might also want to consider renting a post office box or some other type of outside mailing address that your spouse does not have access to. This can be used for all of your private mail, such as correspondence from your attorney and accounts that are in your name only. If you are moving out of your marital home, be sure to register for mail forwarding right away to be sure you’re able to receive all your personal mail after you move.
Here are a couple other things to consider during the organization phase. You might have some financial challenges during the divorce process, so it makes sense to open a separate checking and/or savings account and start putting away money to get you through. Another thing you may want to start doing is keeping a divorce journal. This will be especially important if there are child custody issues at stake. Keep detailed records about your day-to-day involvement in the lives of your children, as well as how involved your spouse is and other behaviors your spouse engages in that are worth noting.
While keeping a journal is a good idea, it is always best to stay off of social media as much as possible. Emotions can run high during a divorce, and it is easy to say things on social media while venting your frustration that you might regret later. Social media posts are generally “discoverable” in divorce cases, and they could be used against you by your ex. Make a plan to seriously limit your social media activity until the divorce process is over.
Choosing a Divorce Attorney
At many law firms, representing clients in divorce cases is just one of many services the law firm offers. The lawyers also work with people filing personal injury claims, workers’ compensation cases, business lawsuits, and much more. Although the attorneys may have significant legal experience, the frequent jump between different practice areas means they don’t necessarily specialize in any of them. In contrast, at Cate & Brough Law Firm we’re devoted exclusively to the practice of family law, and our firm has been serving family law clients around the upstate since 1995.
Ruth Cate, our founding partner, has practiced law since 1977. Additionally, she has worked and lived in Spartanburg that entire time. Besides representing clients facing a divorce, Ruth Cate’s other areas of focus in family law include high asset divorces/ complex asset distribution, alimony and modifications, and various child-related issues.
Similarly, Rachel Brough has 15 years of legal experience, starting with her position representing domestic abuse victims for the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s office. She now enjoys working to ensure the rights of children and parents as a family law attorney in private practice at Cate Law Firm. Her practice also extends to representing parents involved in actions brought by the S.C. Department of Social Services.
Request Your Consultation Today
Cate & Brough Law Firm, P.A. is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina and serves the surrounding communities of Upstate South Carolina, practicing exclusively in the area of family law. Attorneys Ruth Cate, Rachel Brough, and Margaret Nowell have decades of combined experience in South Carolina family law. If you are going through a divorce or separation, or are involved in a child custody dispute, contact Cate Law Firm, P.A. for an immediate consultation. All three are dedicated attorneys who continue to devote their careers to the practice of family law. Contact Cate & Brough Law Firm, P.A. at (864) 585-4226 or contact us online. We also handle military divorces.