Myrtle Beach Divorce Attorney

Divorce Law Attorneys in Myrtle Beach

Under what grounds can I get a divorce in South Carolina?

South Carolina recognizes fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. There is only one no-fault divorce and to qualify, the parties had to live separate and apart without cohabitation for over one year (As a general rule, the Courts will not qualify living in another room as a separate and apart).

There are four fault-based grounds for divorce in South Carolina:

  • (1) Adultery (affair);
  • (2) habitual drunkenness or drug use;
  • (3) physical cruelty (domestic violence); and
  • (4) desertion

However, South Carolina rarely uses desertion as a fault-based ground for divorce since the parties must have lived separate and apart without cohabitation, just as in the no-fault, one year continuous separation.   If a fault-based ground for divorce exists, the parties may obtain a divorce 90 days after filing and the burden of proof is met for the fault-based divorce.

Do I really need to hire an attorney for my divorce?

South Carolina does not require a party to have an attorney for a divorce. However, it is best to have an experienced divorce lawyer to help navigate you through the legal process to obtain a divorce. Your final divorce agreement/order is one of the most important documents of the process.  Having an attorney with experience in drafting such agreements can save you legal fees after your divorce is complete should one of the parties not comply with the final order.

Can I get alimony in South Carolina or will I have to pay alimony to my spouse?

The following statute controls the factors a court will consider when deciding to award alimony. See S.C. Code § 20-3-130(C)(1-13).

(C) In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;

(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;

(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse's income potential;

(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;

(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;

(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;

(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;

(8) the marital and nonmarital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;

(9) custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;

(10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;

(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;

(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and

(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.

What happens to the marital property?

In South Carolina, the marital assets and debts will be divided under an "equitable apportionment" standard.  This is much different from a "community property" state where the judge would divide your property exactly 50/50.  Under the "equitable apportionment" standard, the judge will give each party what he or she thinks is fair.

What is and is not marital property and highly contested, especially in a high asset divorce.  Generally, marital property will include your house, cars, retirement plans, business, and other high value assets that were acquired during the marriage.  Of course, this can be altered based on prenuptial agreements and or antenuptial agreements.  While deciding what is fair. The judge will listen to testimony regarding the values of the property, including business, home, investments and retirement plans.  In addition to the testimony, the judge will consider the length of the marriage and any marital misconduct (adultery, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.). Additionally, the judge will consider the value of the property, each spouse's contribution to the property, the income of each spouse, the income potential of each spouse, whether alimony is being awarded, child custody arrangements and any other factors the court considers necessary.

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