Family law issues are often very challenging to deal with because in addition to the legal matters to be resolved, there are emotions involved which complicate the issues and can also cloud the judgment of the parties. Issues involving the parenting of children and their support often seem unresolvable. Residents in our area can count on us to help with:
Divorce/ Legal Separation
While South Carolina does not have a formal process for legal separation, it is not uncommon for couples to decide to live separately as if they were not married and create an agreement to live apart. For some, religious beliefs mean neither party will file for divorce. When this occurs, it may be necessary to have the same type of agreements in place that would pertain to a divorce. We can help you get an order of separate maintenance and support when you have to be apart, want to resolve your marital issues or do not have a fault ground for divorce. To file for a “no fault” divorce in South Carolina, the couple must have lived separately, with out relations, for a period of one year or more. The three common fault grounds for divorce include adultery, habitual intoxication and physical cruelty and a divorce may be granted as early as 90 days after filing. These laws can be very confusing but we can guide you through the process with advice built upon more than 20 years of experience.
Parents often cannot agree on custody or child support payments and when that happens, the court can make the decision on their behalf. This decision may adversely affect your children for years to come. That is why it is so important to retain an attorney that can fully explain your options and the potential consequences of your decisions. In addition to determining what is best for the child or children, the court may take into consideration the current status of the parents, the time each parent has to spend with the child and any special needs of the child. The overriding consideration is what arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Sole physical custody or joint custody may be awarded depending on the circumstances. The Court can even restrict a parent’s access to a child if it perceives that a parent may represent a danger to that child’s well being.
Child support payments may be awarded to either a custodial parent or a parent with joint custody rights depending on the financial status of the parent. Many factors enter into a child support calculation including gross monthly income, the custody arrangement, other children in the home, insurance cost and day care cost. A difference of $15.00 a week can make a nearly $15,000 difference over the course of the enforcement of a child support order. Having counsel that understands the interplay between support, custody and the methodology of the guidelines insures that the correct support is paid. We can also help when support issues arise due to a change in circumstances, loss of a job or with collection issues. We are here to guide you through this complex issue.
In nearly all cases, the courts will arrange a property division that is equitable. In most cases, if either party had assets prior to the marriage or inherited property during the marriage they will retain ownership. Otherwise, the property will be divided in a manner determined by the court if the couple cannot agree between themselves. It is important to hire an attorney who understands the difference between marital and non-marital property, how non-marital property can become marital and how to handle the division of retirement accounts and business interests. Many times the emotional effects of the dissolution of a marriage cause clients to make property division decisions that are later regretted. We will assist you in making the right decisions for yourself, your children and your future.
In most cases of a single mother, it is important to legally establish paternity. Not only will establishing paternity allow the two parents to work out an equitable parenting plan so the child has contact with both their mother and father, there is also the ability to share the financial responsibility of raising a child. We can also help when there may be a question of paternity. Call us before you become embroiled in a paternity issue and let us help you to make the right decisions.
When you are being battered or abused by a spouse, former spouse or other partner, we can help with the filing of Orders of Protection or seek Restraining Orders to ensure your safety. In the event children are involved in this situation, the court may also order temporary or permanent custody orders to ensure their safety. Let us help you relieve the fear that is dominating your life.
Under South Carolina family law, alimony payments are determined based on a variety of factors including the health and financial capacity of the partners, their current and future earning capacity as well as the length of the marriage. If the court determines there should be post-marriage payments to one partner, a court order will be issued which delineates the amount, frequency and duration of payments. While certainly more wives are actively employed and substantial financial contributors to the marriage, pay inequality, child rearing duties and personal decisions made many years ago can put you in a difficult financial position. You may well be entitled to continue to live the same lifestyle that you enjoyed during the marriage. We will by happy to give you an opinion and fight for your right to not be financially burdened if your spouse makes continuing your marriage impossible.
Enforcement of Court Orders
When the court orders a division of property, child support or spousal support payments, their orders should be followed. However, if you are entitled to receive payments and they are not being made as ordered, we can help you file a contempt of court proceeding to enforce payments either through the court or through court-ordered wage garnishments. Many times, the court will even award you your attorney fees and costs incurred in enforcing the order.
Contact Attorney Edward S. McCallum at (864) 223-8546 for all of your family law related needs.