South Carolina Family Law FAQ

April 10, 2024
Family Law

Family matters are deeply personal. It is essential to have a lawyer you can trust by your side. At Barboza Law, our Lancaster family law attorney will fiercely advocate for your best interests.

Below are some of the most common family law questions. Please contact us at 803-973-6003 to discuss your family matter goals.

When Can I File for Divorce in South Carolina?

Under South Carolina law, divorcing couples must live separately for at least a year before the final trial. Fault-based divorces only have a 90-day waiting period before the final trial. However, a spouse must be able to establish one of the four grounds for a fault-based divorce.

What Are the Requirements for an At-Fault Divorce in South Carolina?

To meet the requirements for an at-fault divorce, one party must establish one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Physical Cruelty
  • Desertion
  • Habitual use of alcohol or drugs

In a fault-based divorce, spouses do not need to live separately. Fault basis may also influence the division of assets. If you believe you have grounds for a fault-based divorce, Barboza Law can help.  

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Lancaster?

The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on your unique marital situation. Several factors can influence the length of the divorce proceedings, including:

  • Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested
  • If the grounds for divorce fall under fault or no-fault
  • How willing both parties are to work towards an amicable agreement
  • Family court docket restraints

High-conflict divorces can take time, especially concerning financial and child custody matters. A South Carolina family law attorney can help you navigate the process and protect your best interests.

How Will Our Assets Be Divided in a Divorce?

South Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state. Marital assets will be divided according to what is fair for your unique circumstances. For example, a judge may consider the following factors:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The value of your marital and non-marital assets
  • If the grounds for your divorce is fault-based
  • The income and potential future income of you and your spouse
  • If you and your spouse own and operate a business together
  • Whether child support and/or spousal support will be awarded
  • Is there child support and/or spousal support from a previous marriage

Equitable division of assets depends on a wide range of factors. While marital property may not be split fifty-fifty, the goal is to as fair as possible.

Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

Whether or not you will be required to pay alimony is contingent on a wide range of facts. In addition, the form of alimony can vary by circumstance. In South Carolina, four types of alimony may be awarded:

  1. Permanent periodic alimony: When the court finds that one spouse should continue to support the other spouse until their death, marriage, or cohabitation with another for more than 90 days. Permanent periodic alimony may be modified under certain circumstances.
  2. Lump-sum alimony: Also referred to as fixed support, lump-sum alimony cannot be altered. Once the parties agree, a fixed support obligation can be paid all at once or in installments over a period of time. The remarriage or cohabitation of the supported spouse does not affect lump-sum alimony.
  3. Rehabilitative alimony:  Often awarded for shorter marriages, rehabilitative alimony may be paid until the supported spouse remarries, cohabitates for more than 90 days, dies, or becomes self-supporting. Rehabilitative alimony is often awarded when the supported spouse can become self-supporting through education or training within a given time frame.
  4. Reimbursement alimony: When one spouse makes substantial sacrifices for another during the course of the marriage, they may be entitled to reimbursement through future earnings of the paying spouse. Reimbursement alimony is often used when one spouse stays home to care for the children or the house.

Considerations for alimony may include the educational background of each spouse, their current and reasonably anticipated needs, and if one spouse is at fault for the end of the marriage. Speak with a financially savvy family law attorney in South Carolina at Barboza Law.

What Happens if My Ex and I Are Fighting Over Custody?

If you and your former spouse cannot agree on child custody, the court will make the final decision. The court will consider the best interests of the child.

Depending on your family circumstances, you and your ex may be given joint custody or one sole custody. When children are older, they may want to choose which parent to live with. If a child can demonstrate enough maturity to make the decision, the court may honor their wishes.  

How Much Will I Have to Pay in Child Support?

Child support is one of the most contentious aspects of any separation or divorce. The Department of Social Services provides a child support calculator to help you estimate your payments.

However, it is important to realize this is only an estimation. Your particular circumstances will influence the exact amount the court will order.

Will a Domestic Violence Charge Affect My Divorce in South Carolina?

Domestic violence charges may impact your divorce in various ways. Your spouse may be able to use your domestic violence charge as grounds for a fault-based divorce. In addition, allegations of domestic abuse may influence child custody, including visitation.

If you have been accused of domestic violence, speak to a family law attorney with experience in these sensitive matters. A domestic violence defense lawyer from Barboza Law can help you protect your rights, reputation, and best interests throughout the divorce process. Contact us today at (803) 973-6003 to schedule a consultation.