We understand that the decision to divorce is not made lightly. In fact, even confronting the idea of divorce takes immense courage and strength, especially when you don’t know quite what lies ahead or what the process entails. To alleviate some of the concerns and questions that might be coming up for you at this stage of the process, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our clients.
We encourage you to read through the responses listed below to learn more about what’s ahead and what you can expect during the divorce process.
Q: What should I do if I received paperwork from my spouse asking for a divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and/or Separate Support and Maintenance?
A: If you have received paperwork from your spouse, it means that you have been officially “served” with legal notice of a Family Court case. If this is the case, you should immediately schedule a consultation with a family law attorney. There are numerous rules and dates that you must be aware of that will impact your case. A divorce complaint must be answered within thirty (30) days, for example. You may have less time if your spouse has requested a Temporary or Emergency hearing in court.
Q: How much does it cost to get divorced and do I have to pay for all of it?
A: The cost of divorce depends on many factors. Time spent on a case is billed hourly; therefore, a contested divorce that requires more time and work will be more costly than an uncontested divorce where the parties can come to an agreement before the need for extensive time spent on preparation and attendance at mediation, discovery, trial, etc. The facts are different in every divorce, but the more the parties can agree on, the less costly the process will be. Typically, attorney fees are an issue for the judge to decide or may be negotiated at mediation in a contested divorce. Attorney fees can be allocated in a number of ways, which we would be happy to discuss with you during a consultation.
Q: Do I have to move out?
A: In South Carolina, in order to get a divorce on non-fault-based grounds, the parties must be separated, living separate and apart, for at least one (1) year. In order to get an Order for Separate Support and Maintenance, where there is no fault, the parties cannot be living together.
Q: Do I have to pay alimony and child support even though my ex works and makes money?
A: Possibly. The Court will weigh many different factors when considering alimony and child support. However, the fact that the other spouse works does not mean that you automatically do not have to pay child support and alimony.
Q: Can I keep the house?
A: If one party wants to keep the marital home, this can be agreed upon or Court-ordered. However, the person who wishes to keep the home will be required to put the mortgage on that house in their name only. If the party wanting to keep the home cannot get refinancing on their own, then the Court will most likely order for the house to be sold and the profit will likely become a part of the equitable division of the marital assets.
Q: Can I date other people if we are separated but not yet divorced?
A: The simple answer is no. Even if the parties are separated, dating other people is considered adultery until there is a final divorce decree. As such, we strongly advise our clients against dating or taking any other action that could lead their soon-to-be ex-spouse to believe that you are dating until there is a final order of divorce.
Q: Do I have to talk to my husband/wife during the divorce process?
A: This depends. We encourage our clients to have civil conversations with their spouse if possible. If the parties have children together, civil communication is a must, and co-parenting counseling may be beneficial to enable this. Also, being able to have a conversation with your spouse might lead the way for an amicable agreement regarding the divorce, thus saving both parties from incurring substantial attorney’s fees and time in court.
Q: I have no idea what our finances are. How do I find out what I am entitled to?
A: Many times, a client comes to us wanting a divorce, but extremely anxious because they have no idea what the household finances are. In many relationships, one spouse has controlled all of the household finances for years. During divorce proceedings, the parties engage in what is known as discovery. Discovery is the process whereby the lawyers ask specific questions to the opposing party in order to better understand the marital finances. There are many tools we use to gather financial information during the discovery process, and we will discuss each of these tools with you along the way.
Q: My spouse got an inheritance from a relative, is that marital property?
A: Usually, inheritances and gifts are considered non-marital property. However, there are some exceptions, and if yours is one of them, we will be able to determine this during the early stages of the divorce process and inform you accordingly.
Q: I bought the house before we got married. Is it marital property?
A: Possibly. Martial property is all property that has been acquired during the marriage. However, if there was a home that was owned prior to marriage, the Court will look at how the parties treated the home during the marriage. If there were actions that show an intent to make the house marital property, then it will be considered as marital property. Furthermore, if the spouse who did not originally acquire the property contributed to the property in a way that helped increase the property’s overall value, he or she may be entitled to a special interest in the property.
Q: Do I have to pay alimony if I lose my job?
A: Alimony depends on many factors, including each party’s income. If, for no reason of your own accord, you lose your job, then the Court will likely take that into consideration. If the Court finds that you lost your job on purpose in an attempt to avoid paying alimony, or due to personal fault, the Court will most likely impute you a wage and order you to pay child support, whether or not you have a job.
Still have questions? You can contact our legal team at (800) 914-0620 or by completing an online contact form. We would be happy to schedule an in-person consultation to discuss your questions and concerns in more detail.