We are Passionate About Helping Our Clients Get through Divorce.
At Seaton Law Office, we understand divorce is one of the most difficult times in our clients’ lives.
We will be with you every step of the way – answering your questions, negotiating on your behalf, and helping you to prepare for hearings or trial.
Whether you are preparing for a complex divorce or you qualify for a simple, uncontested divorce, we are committed to achieving your goals and protecting you, and your child(ren), during every step of the process.
Understanding Divorce in South Carolina
Beginning the Case
Summons and Complaint: The Summons and Complaint are the formal beginning of your divorce case.
The Complaint details the allegations that entitle you to a divorce and tells the Court what relief you are seeking.
The Summons puts the Defendant (the other party) on notice the Complaint has been filed and served, and they must respond to the Complaint within the deadline.
Motions for Temporary Relief
In many cases, your first court appearance will be what is called a temporary hearing. The court will decide any issues that we include in our Motion for Temporary Relief, such as:
- Child custody
- Child support,
- Alimony or spousal support,
- Who stays in the marital home,
- Who keeps which vehicles, and
- Restraining orders.
The court’s decision will be temporary. Although the outcome at the temporary hearing can affect the final outcome in the case, the Court will not issue a permanent order until the final hearing.
The Court will only accept affidavits at the temporary hearing – no live testimony. This means you should begin the process of obtaining affidavits from your potential witnesses immediately.
“Discovery” is the exchange of information and evidence that allows us to prove our case or defend against the other side’s allegations.
Some of the more common types of discovery that you may see in your case include:
- Requests for production – asking the other side to produce documents or records that are relevant to the claims or defenses in a case.
- Interrogatories – written questions that the other side must respond to under oath.
- Requests for admission – written requests for the other side to admit a fact in the case when the fact is not in dispute.
- Depositions – witnesses in your case, including you and the opposing party, may be required to answer questions from the other side under oath and with a court reporter present.
- Subpoenas – when necessary, we will issue subpoenas to people or businesses to secure either documents or their appearance for testimony in court.
Guardians Ad Litem
In some cases, such as where child custody is disputed, a guardian ad litem must be appointed by the court who will conduct an investigation and report to the court on what is in the child(ren)’s best interest.
The guardian ad litem’s report may be favorable to our position, or it may not. Remember, the GAL is attempting to determine what is in the child(ren)’s best interest, which is also the Court’s guiding principle in cases involving children.
Mediation and Negotiations
Mediation is mandatory in all South Carolina divorce and custody cases where there are any contested issues, which could include:
- Child custody,
- Child visitation,
- Alimony, or
- Division of marital assets.
The mediator is a neutral third party whose goal is to help resolve any issues before your final hearing. The court encourages all parties to negotiate and reach a settlement agreement, whether it is prior to mediation or with the help of a mediator, but you are not required to reach an agreement.
If an agreement is reached prior to mediation, you can avoid the cost of mediation. On the other hand, if an agreement cannot be reached at mediation, we can terminate the mediation and take your issues to court as long as you have made a good faith attempt to resolve the case.
Trial Prep and Trial
Trial preparation begins at the very beginning of your case, and continues throughout the process.
Early in your case, however, we will begin with the work that is necessary for effective negotiation by gathering information through witness affidavits, the formal discovery process, and subpoenas.
If your case cannot be settled before the final hearing, we continue with trial preparation for any remaining contested issues by:
- Preparing for direct and cross examination of all witnesses,
- Preparing documents and testimony to prove each of your contested issues such as child custody, equitable distribution of the marital assets, or alimony,
- Interviewing and issuing trial subpoenas for witnesses,
- Reviewing the guardian ad litem report and preparing for aspects of the report that need to be challenged or supplemented with additional information,
- Reviewing all discovery requests and responses and filing supplemental discovery motions or motions to compel when necessary,
- Organizing trial exhibits and deciding the best order of presentation to the court, and
Preparing the client for trial testimony.
We will work hard to keep your costs down by “preparing for negotiation” before “preparing for trial.” We will attempt to settle your case without a trial whenever it is possible to do so and achieve your goals, but we will also be prepared and ready for trial when an agreement cannot be reached on all issues.
They are very good at what they do! Go see them today and be worry free!
– Kipp Cavadias
Great Lawyer, will definitely use again when needed. Thank You Beau!
– Charles McGee
He truly cares about his clients!! A wonderful lawyer!!
– Lamarr Richardson
* The Rules of Professional Conduct require disclosure that this is a “Testimonial” about the attorney. Please be aware that any result achieved on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
Four (4) Steps To Take If You’re Considering a Divorce
1. Gather All Records
It is very important your attorney has a good idea of the whole picture. Keeping your records together, and organized, is key to getting off on the right foot. Your attorney will analyze all the pertinent records and explain what they mean for your case.
2. Document Household Goods
A big part of a divorce proceeding is the distribution of shared assets. The first things you most likely think of when you hear “assets” are big things like houses and cars, but household goods are also shared assets. Make a record of what they all are so you are prepared when the time comes to make decisions.
3. Gather Proof of Income
Income is part of the spousal support and child support calculations. This information seems very personal, but it is necessary in making this important determination. Find the documents that show your proof of income and make sure you provide them to your attorney.
4. Monitor Your Behavior
Divorce proceedings are hard on all parties involved. They are emotionally charged and can bring out the worst in people. Try to watch your behavior and act in a civil manner. You don’t want to do something in the heat of the moment that you may end up later regretting. The judge will be making the final determination in your case, so don’t do something that will make you appear to be uncooperative or a troublemaker.
Ready To Speak With An Attorney?
Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.
Common Questions About Divorce in SC
Are divorce records public?
Many parts of your divorce case, including the parties involved and any documents filed with the clerk of court, are public information that is available either online or in the clerk’s office.
Some divorce cases can be “sealed” by the court, but only if the parties provide a legitimate reason for privacy.
What are the types of divorce?
Divorces in SC can be “contested” or “uncontested.”
A case is “contested” if there are any issues that are not resolved by the parties prior to the final hearing.
The five grounds for divorce in South Carolina include:
- One year continuous separation (a “no-fault divorce”),
- Physical cruelty,
- Habitual drunkenness, and
- Desertion or abandonment.
Can I date while separated?
SC law says that adultery is a bar to alimony and can be considered by the court when dividing marital property if it happens before:
1. A written separation or settlement agreement has been signed by a judge, or
2. The court has issued a permanent order for separate support and maintenance or a permanent order approving the marital settlement.
Dating while your divorce is pending can impact the court’s decisions about child custody, visitation, alimony, and division of property. This is partly due to there being no such thing as “legal separation” in South Carolina.” You can date while going through the divorce process, but only after an Order for Separate Support and Maintenance has been signed by a judge and you are smart about it — don’t try to offend your soon-to-be former spouse.