Alimony in SC: How It Works

Alimony in SC: How It Works

When can you get alimony in a South Carolina divorce? 

What if you were married for ten years, gave up your job, and raised the children while your spouse pursued their career? Twenty years? Will you have to go to work at a minimum wage, entry-level job now to make ends meet and support your kids? 

Are you entitled to alimony as part of your divorce proceedings? 

Below, we will take a look at South Carolina law on alimony, including:

  • The factors the courts use to decide whether you can get alimony in South Carolina,
  • The effect of adultery on alimony awards,
  • The different types of alimony in South Carolina, and
  • How long alimony payments last. 

What You Need to Know About Alimony in South Carolina

Alimony is not guaranteed in a South Carolina divorce case. First, the court must decide whether or not it will award alimony. After that determination it will award a specific amount.

What Determines if You Will Get Alimony in a South Carolina Divorce? 

How does the court decide if you will get alimony in South Carolina? 

When the court decides whether to award child support, there are concrete guidelines that the judge follows to calculate the amount of child support a custodial parent is entitled to, but there are no “South Carolina alimony guidelines.” 

There are statutory factors that the court must consider when determining whether alimony is appropriate, the type of alimony that is appropriate, and how much alimony should be awarded. 

Factors that the Family Court Uses to Decide Alimony

The family court has discretion in alimony awards, but SC Code § 21-3-130(C) contains a list of factors that the court “must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate,” including:

  • The duration of the marriage,
  • The age of the parties at the time of marriage and at the time of divorce,
  • Each spouse’s physical and emotional condition,
  • Each spouse’s educational background, 
  • Whether either spouse needs additional training or education to achieve their income potential,
  • Each spouse’s earning potential and work history,
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage,
  • The “current and reasonably anticipated” income of each spouse,
  • The “current and reasonably anticipated” expenses of each spouse,
  • The property owned by each spouse – marital and nonmarital,
  • Child custody – especially where the custodial parent must forego employment or take limited employment to care for the children,
  • Any marital misconduct if it 1) “affected the economic circumstances of the parties” or 2) “contributed to the breakup of the marriage, 
  • Tax consequences for the type of alimony awarded,
  • Any other support obligations that either spouse has, and
  • Any other factors that the court thinks are relevant. 

Adultery is a Complete Bar to Alimony in South Carolina

If you are separated, can you start dating other people? 

Not so fast… 

SC Code § 21-3-130(A) says that adultery is a complete bar to alimony in South Carolina, but only if it happens before:

  1. The formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement, or
  2. The entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or a permanent order approving the parties’ property or marital settlement agreement. 

Adultery is marital misconduct – it’s even one of the five grounds for divorce in South Carolina, and it’s also one of the factors the court must consider when deciding whether to award alimony in South Carolina. 

Types of Alimony in South Carolina

Alimony can be flexible, and a solution can be crafted based on the unique circumstances of each couple. 

SC Code § 21-3-130(B) lists five specific types of alimony that can be awarded, has a catch-all provision that allows the court to order any other type of arrangement that is appropriate under the circumstances, and allows the court to order more than one type of alimony when appropriate. 

The types of alimony in South Carolina include:

  • Periodic alimony – payment of alimony on an ongoing basis that can be reviewed and revised by the court as needed,
  • Lump-sum alimony – a set dollar amount that can be paid all at once or in installments, 
  • Rehabilitative alimony – a set dollar amount that can be paid all at once or in installments, intended to allow the spouse to complete job training or education, 
  • Reimbursement alimony – a set dollar amount that can be paid all at once or in installments, intended to reimburse the spouse for events that occurred during the marriage,
  • Separate support and maintenance – payment of alimony on an ongoing basis, when the parties are living separately but not seeking a divorce, and
  • Any other form of spousal support “under terms and conditions that the court may consider just,” including ordering more than one type of child support. 

How Long Does Alimony Last in South Carolina? 

When do alimony payments end? 

Depending on the type of alimony, it could be terminated or modified based on:

  • Remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse,
  • Death of the supported spouse, or
  • A change in circumstances (like job loss, change in the family’s make-up, or a reduction in pay). 

Some types of alimony can be terminated or modified, and others cannot. Whether and when alimony can be terminated or modified depends on the type of alimony that was ordered:

  • Periodic alimony – terminates on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or the death of either spouse and can be terminated or modified based on a change in circumstances, 
  • Lump-sum alimony – cannot be terminated or modified based on changed circumstances or remarriage, and terminates only on the death of the supported spouse, 
  • Rehabilitative alimony – can be terminated on remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or the death of either spouse or the occurrence of a specific future event (like completion of a college degree) and can be modified “based upon unforeseen events frustrating the good faith efforts of the supported spouse to become self-supporting or the ability of the supporting spouse to pay the rehabilitative alimony,” 
  • Reimbursement alimony – can be terminated on remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or the death of either spouse but cannot be terminated or modified based on a change in circumstances, and
  • Separate support and maintenance – terminates on the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse or the death of either spouse and can be terminated or modified based on a change in circumstances.

Questions About Alimony in South Carolina? 

If you are considering separation or divorce and believe you are entitled to receive alimony, call an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

What is an uncontested divorce in South Carolina? 

Most people who are ready to divorce want to complete the process as quickly as possible – in many cases, an uncontested divorce is the fastest way to make that happen. 

If your goal is to finalize your divorce as quickly as possible, that is also your divorce attorney’s goal at the Seaton Law Office. There are many things that you will need to consider, however, including whether your divorce is truly uncontested. 

In this article, we will try to provide the information you need to understand what an uncontested divorce is and how long it will take, including:

  • When a divorce is contested and when it is uncontested,
  • The process for getting an uncontested divorce in South Carolina,
  • What a no-fault divorce means, 
  • How long an uncontested divorce will take, and
  • What your divorce attorney can do for you when your divorce is uncontested. 

The Basics: Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is always the better option when it is possible – if both parties can agree about the important issues in their divorce proceedings, the divorce is likely to be finalized more quickly and it is likely to cost less because your attorney will not be spending time litigating issues like discovery, child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of marital assets. 

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree on everything – if there are unresolved disputes over spousal support, child custody, or other issues, you do not have an uncontested divorce. 

Most uncontested divorces are obtained on the ground of one year’s continuous separation – you and your spouse can put your agreement into a separation agreement that the family court can later incorporate into your final divorce decree, wait for one year after the date of your separation, and then ask the court to approve the terms of your divorce. 

Although it is not as common, an “uncontested” divorce can be based on fault grounds as well – if your former spouse 1) agrees to the fault ground or 2) does not appear to contest the fault ground, your divorce is not “contested” and is likely to move forward quickly. 

An uncontested divorce may be the right answer for you if:

  • There is nothing to dispute – there are no children, no assets, and neither side is asking for spousal support,
  • You and your spouse have agreed to all issues like child support, child custody, alimony, and division of assets, or
  • Your spouse does not respond to your divorce complaint or doesn’t contest any of your claims. 

What is a Contested Divorce?

If you and your spouse do not agree to all issues in your divorce, your divorce is not uncontested. 

Your divorce may become uncontested when your divorce lawyer helps you resolve the issues through negotiations with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney or when the issues are resolved in mediation, or the family court may have to decide the issues for you after litigation. 

When litigation is required, there may be additional hearings, discovery (where each side produces their evidence for the other side), and a contested final divorce hearing where each side presents their evidence to the court for a decision. 

In addition to unresolved issues that must be decided by the family court, your grounds for divorce may also be contested by your spouse. In addition to one year’s continuous separation (a no-fault divorce), the possible grounds for divorce in South Carolina (fault divorce) include:

  • Adultery,
  • Physical cruelty,
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, and
  • Desertion. 

Even a divorce based on one year’s continuous separation can be a contested divorce unless both sides agree to all issues that would otherwise be presented to the family court for a decision. 

What’s the Process for Getting an Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?

In the best-case scenario, where there are no contested issues, you should be able to get an uncontested divorce by:

  • Filing a divorce complaint in the appropriate county,
  • Serving your spouse with the complaint and summons, 
  • Requesting a hearing in the family court (after the one-year continuous separation), and
  • Asking the family court to finalize your divorce and issue a final order. 

Common Questions About Uncontested Divorces in South Carolina

If you are considering an uncontested divorce in South Carolina, you may have questions. We will try to answer some of these below, but you should contact a local divorce lawyer immediately who can answer your questions based on your unique circumstances. 

Can I Get an Uncontested Divorce on My Own in South Carolina? 

You can get a no-fault or uncontested divorce on your own in South Carolina, but it is not recommended. Your divorce lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected, that you or your children are not being taken advantage of, that your spouse is disclosing all their assets, and work to get your divorce resolved as quickly as possible. 

What is a “Simple Divorce?”

A simple divorce means an uncontested divorce or a no-fault divorce, as opposed to a “complex” divorce which involves substantial assets, businesses, children, and issues that must be litigated in the family court. 

What is a No-Fault Divorce in South Carolina? 

A no-fault divorce is a divorce based on one year’s continuous separation, as opposed to the four “fault grounds” listed above. 

You must live “separate and apart” for one year – continuously. If you reconcile during that time, the clock will start over again. 

Do You Always Have to Wait a Year Before Getting a No-Fault Divorce in South Carolina? 

If you are getting a divorce on the grounds of one year’s continuous separation (a no-fault divorce), you must wait one year after the date you separated before the court will finalize your divorce. 

You do not have to wait one year after filing your divorce complaint, however – if you have been separated for some time before filing for divorce, if there are no unresolved issues in your case, and if the court’s docket permits, you could get a divorce in a matter of months after you file your divorce complaint. 

How Long Do Uncontested Divorces Take? 

It depends… 

A divorce based on one year’s continuous separation cannot be finalized until one year after the date you and your spouse separated. 

On the other hand, if you are asking for a divorce on fault grounds and your spouse is not contesting the fault grounds or any other issues in your case, you may be able to schedule a final hearing as soon as 90 days after your complaint was filed, the court’s docket permitting. 

What is an Order of Separate Support and Maintenance? Do I need one?

An Order of Separate Support and Maintenance is not required in divorce cases, but they can be very helpful. These orders can lay the foundation while you are living separate and apart from your spouse awaiting the clock to run on your one year separation. They are designed to resolve issues that need immediate attention, such as child custody, child support, alimony, division of marital property, and more. 

While they are temporary, they are often incorporated into the final divorce decree. They do have to be approved by the court, so it is important to contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible to give the most amount of time to prepare your case.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me in an Uncontested Divorce? 

Even an uncontested divorce can be difficult for someone who is unrepresented. Your divorce lawyer will help you to:

  • Resolve any outstanding issues before you get to court,
  • Ensure that your agreement with your spouse is fair and you are not being taken advantage of,
  • Prepare all paperwork, including your divorce complaint and summons, financial declarations, and other documents, and properly file them with the court so that your proceedings are not delayed, and
  • Identify and resolve any issues that might have otherwise delayed your proceedings or caused problems. 

Questions About Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina? 

If you are considering separation or divorce, or if you are not sure whether you qualify for an uncontested divorce in South Carolina, call an experienced Charleston, South Carolina divorce attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

Maybe we should put in a paragraph about an Order of Separate Support and Maintenance which allows the parties to live freely from one another as if they are unmarried. This must be approved by the court so they need to contact their local attorney immediate.

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Emergency Custody in South Carolina: How it Works

Emergency Custody in South Carolina: How it Works

What is emergency custody in South Carolina, and how do you go about getting it? 

If a child is in danger, you will want to move as fast as possible to do what you can to help the child. A South Carolina emergency custody lawyer may be able to help you identify what your options are and help you to request an emergency custody hearing where the family court can step in and help get the child to a safe place. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • The difference between temporary, expedited, and emergency hearings;
  • How to file for emergency custody in South Carolina;
  • When you should ask the family court for emergency custody; and
  • How long it will take to get an emergency custody hearing in the family court. 

South Carolina Special Hearings

First, let’s take a moment to consider some of the different types of hearings you can request in the family court and the purpose of each – temporary hearings, expedited hearings, and emergency hearings (where you can ask the court for emergency custody). 

Types of Special Hearings: Temporary, Expedited, and Emergency Hearings

Temporary Hearings

A “temporary hearing” is often requested after a divorce or custody complaint is filed so the court can resolve important issues that just can’t wait until the final divorce hearing – for example, spousal support, child support, child custody, child visitation, or which spouse will keep the family home and vehicles. 

In some cases, however, a temporary hearing is not fast enough – for example, if a child is in danger and you need to seek emergency custody from the court. 

Expedited Hearings

An expedited hearing allows the parties to “cut to the front of the line” when it is necessary to resolve procedural issues before another hearing date that has already been scheduled. 

For example, an expedited hearing may be appropriate when one party needs a continuance and the other side will not consent, when one side intends to challenge jurisdiction (and does not want to spend time and their client’s money preparing for a hearing that may not happen because there is no jurisdiction), or when one side needs additional information or discovery to fully prepare for the previously scheduled hearing date. 

Emergency Hearings 

If you need to ask the family court for emergency custody of a child, you will request an emergency hearing

Emergency hearings are reserved for “true emergencies” where irreparable harm may be done if the court does not act swiftly, like:

  • An endangered child who needs to be removed from the home immediately,
  • Situations where a spouse is liquidating or concealing their assets in a divorce case, or
  • A domestic violence victim needs to petition the family court for an Order of Protection

How to File for Emergency Custody in South Carolina

To file for emergency custody in South Carolina, you or your attorney will file a “Motion for Emergency Temporary Relief” that includes an explanation and documentation of why emergency custody is needed. 

A family court judge will see your motion and, based on the documentation you provided, decide whether an emergency custody hearing is necessary. 

What is an Emergency Custody Hearing? 

You can file a motion asking the family court for emergency custody of a child when the child is in danger or exposed to dangerous behaviors in their home. For example, emergency custody may be justified when:

  • The child is being neglected,
  • The child is being physically or sexually abused,
  • The child is being exposed to drug or alcohol abuse,
  • There is domestic violence in the home,
  • The parent has been convicted of a crime or is engaging in criminal activity,
  • There are visitors to the home that may be a danger to the child, like sex offenders, or
  • The parent is incapacitated or incapable of caring for the child due to physical or mental illness. 

At the hearing, the family court can grant temporary custody of a minor child to the person who is asking for emergency custody (or the court could temporarily place the child in DSS custody if necessary), and the court can also grant temporary child support, alimony, or use of the marital home or other property necessary for the care of the child. 

Where are Emergency Custody Hearings Held? 

The South Carolina Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction to handle all domestic matters in South Carolina – this includes emergency custody hearings as well as divorces, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, property disputes between spouses, name changes, termination of parental rights, and adoptions. 

If you have any questions about where to file the emergency custody hearing request, what documentation to include, or how to present the case to the family court, contact a South Carolina emergency custody hearing lawyer immediately and ask for help. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Emergency Custody in South Carolina? 

If the family court decides that an emergency custody hearing is warranted, they will schedule the hearing as swiftly as possible. 

There is no need to give notice to the other side, and an emergency custody hearing request can be filed and argued ex parte although the other side might be able to challenge the emergency custody order at a later hearing. 

Questions About Emergency Custody in South Carolina? 

If you need to ask the court for emergency custody of a child who is in danger, contact a Charleston, South Carolina emergency custody attorney immediately who can help you to gather the documentation you will need, file the hearing request, and present your case to the family court. 

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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What Determines the Best Interest of a Child in a Custody Dispute in SC

What Determines the Best Interest of a Child in a Custody Dispute in SC

Almost all decisions made by the family court related to children must be guided by the “best interests of the child” standard – including child custody. 

Custody disputes can be messy, painful, and are often the most emotionally charged parts of divorce proceedings. Whenever possible, the parents should come to an agreement on custody and visitation, but, if they cannot, a judge will decide for them. 

How can a family court judge make such an impossible choice? 

There are several South Carolina laws judges must consider when decided the best interests of a child in a custody dispute, including:

  • The child’s religion,
  • The child’s preference,
  • Whether there is domestic violence, and
  • A list of factors used to determine the best interests of the child. 

Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interest

There are several factors a South Carolina court uses to determine what is in a child’s best interest in making custody decisions. Many of these factors are expressly stated in the South Carolina Code of Laws.

Statutory Considerations when Determining Child Custody

South Carolina law contains specific instructions for the family court regarding the “Tender Years Doctrine,” the child’s religion, the child’s preference for placement, and domestic violence allegations. In addition to these statutes, South Carolina law also contains a comprehensive list of factors the court must consider when deciding what is in the best interests of a child during a custody dispute. 

No More Tender Years Doctrine

The “Tender Years Doctrine,” which presumed that custody of a young child under the age of four should be given to the mother, was abolished by SC Code Section 63-15-10. A child’s age, alone, should never be a consideration in determining whether the child’s mother or father is best equipped to provide and care for the child. 

Religion

When a child is being placed with a non-parent, the child’s religious faith must be considered. 

SC Code Section 63-15-20 requires the court to place a child with an individual, agency, or institution that is 1) governed by the same faith as the parents of the child 2) the same faith as the child if the parents do not share the same faith, or 3) the faith of either parent if the child’s religious faith is not ascertainable. 

This statute does not require the court to consider the parent’s faith in a custody dispute, only when the child is being placed with an individual who is not a parent, an agency, or an institution. 

When the parents have two different faiths, however, the child’s religious faith may be a factor that the court considers under SC Code Section 63-15-240(B)(17)

The Child’s Preference

Code Section 63-15-30 requires the court to consider the child’s reasonable preference for custody, based on the child’s:

  • Age,
  • Experience,
  • Maturity,
  • Judgment, and 
  • Ability to express their preference. 

Although the child’s preference is always a factor the court must consider, the court should give greater weight to the child’s preference based on their age and maturity level – as a child becomes older, they will have more experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express their preference. 

Domestic Violence

Evidence of domestic violence must also be considered when the family court is making a custody determination.

A mere allegation of domestic violence is not enough to deny custody to a parent, but the court will consider evidence of domestic abuse whether or not there is a criminal conviction. SC Code Section 63-15-40 requires the court to consider evidence of:

  • Physical or sexual abuse, and
  • Which party was the primary aggressor in any domestic violence incident. 

If one parent is absent from the home because they were a victim of domestic abuse, their absence from the home is not sufficient cause alone to deny custody to that parent. 

The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard

What do the above factors all have in common? 

Final custody determinations must be based on the best interests of the child – in addition to the laws described above, SC Code Section 63-15-240(B) contains a comprehensive list of factors that the court must consider when determining the best interests of a child in a custody dispute, including:

  • The child’s temperament and developmental needs,
  • Each parent’s ability to understand and meet the child’s needs,
  • Each child’s preference,
  • Each parent’s wishes,
  • The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other persons (like grandparents, aunts, and uncles) who will affect the child’s best interests,
  • Each parent’s ability to encourage an appropriate parent-child relationship with the other parent,
  • Manipulative or coercive behavior by either parent to involve the child in the parent’s dispute,
  • Whether one parent disparages the other parent in front of the child,
  • Each parent’s ability to be involved in the child’s life,
  • The child’s ability to adjust to the home, school, or community of each parent,
  • The stability of each parent’s home,
  • The mental and physical health of the people involved with the child at each home, 
  • The cultural and spiritual background of the child,
  • Any abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling,
  • Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse,
  • Whether a parent has moved more than 100 miles away from the child’s home in the past year, and
  • Any other factors that the court finds are necessary to consider in determining the best interests of the child. 

Questions About Child Custody and the Best Interests of the Child?

If you are considering separation or divorce, or if you need help with a custody dispute in South Carolina, call an experienced South Carolina child custody attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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South Carolina Child Visitation Schedules

South Carolina Child Visitation Schedules

If you are separated or divorcing and you have children, you are going to need a visitation schedule. 

What is a visitation schedule? 

It is a plan that says where your child is going to be and when they will be there. It contains all the details about when the non-custodial parent will have visitation, where it will happen, where the child will spend weekends, holidays, and vacations, and who provides the transportation. 

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How to create a South Carolina child visitation schedule, 
  • What should be covered in your South Carolina child visitation schedule, 
  • Why you should reach an agreement regarding the South Carolina visitation schedule whenever possible, and 
  • What the standard visitation schedule in South Carolina  looks like.  

How Do You Create a Child Visitation Schedule?

Before creating a child visitation schedule, you must establish the type of child custody arrangement you will have. Then, you can create a schedule to coordinate your child’s custody, visitation, and transportation with your child’s other parent. 

Your custody arrangement should account for both physical custody (where the child lives) and legal custody (who makes important educational, religious, or health decisions on behalf of the child), and the arrangements could include:

  • Sole physical custody – where one parent is the primary caregiver while the other parent has regular visitation with the child,
  • Joint physical custody – where both parents take turns as the primary caregiver and physical custody is split between the parents,
  • Sole legal custody – where one parent is responsible for major decisions on behalf of the child, 
  • Joint legal custody – where both parents share responsibility for major decisions on behalf of the child but one parent has the final say-so, and
  • Any combination of physical and legal custody.

Sole physical custody with visitation rights to the non-custodial parent is the most common physical custody arrangement, with joint legal custody, but the family court will approve other arrangements when the parties agree and it is in the best interests of the child. 

Once you know which parent will be the primary caregiver and where the child will be living, then you must determine when the non-custodial parent will have visitation, where the visitation will be, and how the child will be transported to and from visitation. 

What Should be Covered in a Child Visitation Schedule?

Your visitation schedule should include:

  • A residency schedule – detailed information about where the child will live during the school year’s weekdays and weekends, 
  • When the non-custodial parent will take the child for visitation during the school year and where the child will stay during visitation, 
  • A summer schedule – whether the child will live with the non-custodial parent during the summer months, 
  • A schedule for winter breaks and spring breaks from school, 
  • A holiday schedule that lists all holidays and special occasions, when the holiday begins and ends, and which parent the child will stay with during each holiday, and
  • A vacation schedule that covers pre-planned vacation time, the start and end dates, and which parent the child will stay with on those dates. 

Other issues that should be covered in the child visitation schedule include:

  • Who will be responsible for the child’s transportation, 
  • Where the parents will meet for the visitation exchange, 
  • Who will pay for transportation costs, and 
  • Who will pay for unanticipated costs related to the child’s transportation. 

There may be other issues that the parents can anticipate and include in their visitation schedule. Remember, the goal of a visitation schedule is to avoid arguments and disputes down the road. 

If there is a disagreement that cannot be resolved, the parents need only refer to the visitation schedule and the custody order. Or, if visitation rights or transportation issues must be resolved by the court, there is a court order in place that can be enforced. 

Standard Child Visitation Schedule in SC: 

If the parents cannot agree on the visitation schedule, the court will most likely order the “standard visitation schedule.” The parents may also simply agree to adopt the standard visitation schedule to simplify things, understanding that is what the court is likely to do anyway. 

The standard visitation schedule in SC usually consists of:

  • Visitation with the non-custodial parent every other weekend from 6:00p.m. on Friday evening until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, 
  • Visitation with the non-custodial parent every other Wednesday after school until 8:00 p.m., 
  • Visitation with the non-custodial parent for between three and four weeks during the summer, and
  • Alternating holidays, switching them each year. 

Which parent provides transportation and which parent is responsible for the costs of transportation will depend on where the parents live, the distance that must be traveled, and other circumstances that may vary from case to case. 

Child Visitation Schedule Agreements:

Your visitation schedule should be created by agreement whenever possible. When the parties cannot agree, it will sometimes make sense to just agree to the standard visitation schedule that the court is likely to order anyway. 

When the parties agree on the visitation schedule, the court will likely incorporate their agreement into the court’s final order if it is in the child’s best interests. 

Questions About Child Visitation Schedules in SC? 

If you are considering separation or divorce and need help with your child visitation schedule, call an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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What are the Types of Divorce in SC?

What are the Types of Divorce in SC?

There are five types of divorce in South Carolina – you can only get a divorce if you fall into one of those five categories. 

Each state has its own grounds for divorce – some allow no fault divorces based on irreconcilable differences, while others do not. Some states don’t allow fault-based divorces at all. 

South Carolina’s five grounds for divorce include a no-fault divorce based on one-year separation and four fault grounds for divorce. Below, we will discuss each of the five types of divorce in SC and what type of proof each requires. 

Types of Divorce in South Carolina: 

There are five types of divorce, or five grounds for divorce, in South Carolina, including:

  • No fault divorce based on one year separation,
  • Adultery,
  • Physical cruelty,
  • Habitual drunkenness, and
  • Desertion. 

Let’s take a look at each of these, starting with no fault divorces. 

No-Fault Divorce Based on One Year Separation

A no fault divorce means that the breakup is mutual, or at least no one is contesting the divorce. 

SC Code Section 20-3-10(5) says that either spouse can ask for a divorce “when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year.” 

No one has to be at fault, and the parties don’t have to prove anything except they lived separate and apart. What does that mean? 

The parties must remain separated – they can’t live under the same roof and they cannot reconcile during the one-year period. If the parties attempt to reconcile and then decide it’s still not going to work, the one-year clock starts over. 

Does a No-Fault Divorce Mean We Agree on Everything? 

Not necessarily – although it is best to reach an agreement before your final divorce hearing as to child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property, there are cases where those matters are disputed even though the divorce is based on one-year’s separation. 

The grounds for divorce may be mutually agreed upon – one year’s separation – but the details will still have to be worked out, either in negotiations, mediation, or at trial. 

Fault Based Divorce in South Carolina:

There are four types of divorce in South Carolina based on fault grounds, which are adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, and desertion. 

Why blame the other spouse and file for a fault-based divorce? 

Fault in the circumstances that led to divorce, or marital misconduct, can have a significant impact on the final divorce decree, including who gets custody of the children, whether one spouse must pay alimony, and the division of marital assets. 

If your spouse is abusive and/or your children are in danger at your spouse’s home, it may be critical that 1) you get full custody of the children and 2) visitation with your spouse be limited or supervised. 

If your spouse has committed adultery, they are not entitled to alimony. Adultery, physical violence, habitual drunkenness, or other marital misconduct are also factors the court will consider when dividing marital assets. 

Adultery

Adultery is when one spouse cheats on the other, and it refers to sexual misconduct. It doesn’t matter if it is an ongoing affair or a one-night stand, but, if you “condone the adultery” by reconciling with your spouse, it is no longer a ground for divorce. 

How do you prove adultery? 

  • Witness testimony, including your private investigator,
  • Photos, 
  • Video, or
  • Any other evidence that tends to prove inclination and opportunity to commit adultery. 

Often, our clients use a private investigator to collect the evidence that they need. You don’t have to get photos or video of your spouse committing the act – proof of inclination (holding hands, spending an abnormal amount of time together) and opportunity (walking into a motel room or home together) are usually enough. 

In some cases, it is critical that you prove the adultery because 1) adultery is a complete bar to alimony and 2) marital misconduct is a factor that the court may consider when deciding child custody and division of the marital assets. 

Physical Cruelty

Physical cruelty is another type of divorce in South Carolina. It means physical abuse – pushing, shoving, hitting, or other conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious injury to you. 

How do you prove physical cruelty? 

  • If your spouse has been charged with domestic violence or if you were forced to seek a protective order against them, 
  • Photos or video of injuries, 
  • Medical testimony, or
  • Testimony of family members or friends who either witnessed the abuse or witnessed your injuries. 

If your spouse was convicted of domestic violence or violating a restraining order, they cannot deny the criminal conviction because the standard of proof in criminal court (beyond a reasonable doubt) is higher than the standard of proof in the civil or family courts. 

On the other hand, if they had a domestic violence charge dismissed, that doesn’t prevent you from proving to the family court that the abuse happened – in the family court, the standard of proof is lower than in the criminal courts; therefore, you can still claim physical cruelty as a ground for divorce. 

Habitual Drunkenness

Habitual drunkenness doesn’t just refer to alcohol – it could mean your spouse’s abuse of alcohol or any type of drug. 

It also doesn’t mean your spouse has been diagnosed as an alcoholic or drug addict – you will need to prove that they use alcohol or drugs on a regular basis (this could mean every day, or it could mean twice a week), and their use of alcohol or drugs caused the breakdown of the marriage. 

How do you prove habitual drunkenness? 

Assuming your former spouse doesn’t admit to their problem and the impact it had on your marriage, you can prove your case through:

  • Witness testimony – friend or relatives who have observed your former spouse’s alcohol or drug use,
  • Testimony from your private investigator,
  • Photos or videos, 
  • Evidence that your former spouse was admitted for treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, or
  • Arrests or convictions for alcohol or drug-related offenses. 

Desertion 

The final type of divorce in South Carolina is desertion, or abandonment. 

If your former spouse just disappeared with no explanation, you did not agree to their desertion, and you received no support from your former spouse during the one-year period, you are entitled to a divorce on the ground of desertion. 

As with the other types of divorce, desertion can be proven through witness testimony, including the testimony of a private investigator who has made reasonable attempts to locate your former spouse. 

Questions About Types of Divorce in South Carolina? 

If you are considering separation or divorce, call an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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