Are You Secretly Planning for Divorce in Greenville, South Carolina?

There are many reasons that you might be secretly planning to get divorced in Greenville, South Carolina. By secretly, we mean that you have not told your spouse yet, and you do not intend to until you are ready to go, or perhaps until after you go. It may be that you are in danger or that you wish to ease out of the situation without further drama. You might be concerned for your children, your pets, or for the malicious or violent nature of your spouse. You may simply worry that mentioning it will quickly lead to homelessness when you are not prepared to stand on your own two feet alone just yet. Whatever the reason, if you have decided that it is in your best interests to plan your divorce in secret until you are able and ready to walk away from the relationship, then we have some advice for how you can be prepared for the moment that you reveal your plans. Having said that, if you are in immediate danger of domestic violence, there are resources to help you get out of that situation safely.

Setting Up a Secret Post Office Box for Private Mail Correspondence

One of the first things you need to do in preparing to separate from your spouse, especially if you are preparing in secret, is to set up a secret post office box to receive private mail. Get the post office box in your name only and keep the key in a safe place. This can help you to avoid questions about the various correspondences you may receive while planning for divorce.

Start Saving Money for the Upcoming Living Expenses and Legal Expenses

One of the most common concerns for people who want to prepare for divorce in secret is that they will not have the money to take care of themselves and their legal fees. In some cases, the spouse who wants to get divorced does not have a job. In other cases, they do have a job, but do not have control over their finances. It is important to start saving money ahead of time. Even if you are only able to tuck away a few dollars at a time, the sooner you start saving, the better off you’ll be. Even a small amount of money saved will add up over time. If your spouse is controlling with the finances, then you may find it more difficult to do this, but it is usually possible to slowly build your savings. If you have family or friends who are willing to help you financially, then this may be one route to consider. You may also be able to apply for a personal loan. You can open up a new savings account and checking account that is in your name only and use your post office box to receive documents related to those accounts.

Collect and Organize Your Financial Records and Other Relevant Documents

The next important thing to do is going to be to gather and organize all of your financial records and other relevant documents. You can store this information in a safe deposit box or with friends or family, as you will not want to leave these documents laying around for your spouse to discover and start asking questions. Make sure that you keep everything in a safe place. Among these documents, you will want statements from your joint bank accounts, your private bank accounts, your wills, your insurance policies, your medical directives, your mortgages, your car title, and any other relevant documents.

Once you’ve gathered these documents, you can start making the necessary changes. Many of the changes you make will have to be revisited when your divorce is final, but you can get started on making changes now. It is also important, while doing this, to be aware that many changes may result in a phone call to your spouse to request their signature or authorization. You may be able to circumvent this by contacting the companies in advance and requesting that they not make those calls or at least finding out if that is an option. If there is too much risk for any given situation, then you can postpone those particular changes. The reason we suggest that you start making changes in advance is that you don’t want your spouse whom you wish to separate from to remain as your beneficiary or as the person who will make your medical decisions in the event of a medical emergency.

Identify and List the Properties that are Marital Assets and Non-Marital Assets

Another thing to pay attention to as you prepare for divorce and start gathering your documents is which assets are jointly owned as marital property and which assets are yours alone. This will include some of the things in those documents, such as vehicle titles, mortgage documents, and other properties that have paperwork to establish ownership. It will also include properties in your home. It will include your furniture, your electronics, your jewelry, etc. It’s a good idea to take pictures of property that may ‘come up missing’ once you file for divorce or leave the home.

Make a complete list of the things that you own outside of the marriage and the things that are jointly owned. The property that you came into the marriage with is going to be mostly non-marital property. Any property that was given as a gift directly to you and not to both of you is also non-marital property. The same is true for inheritances that are yours alone. Any gifts that were given to you by your spouse are also yours alone. If you have any doubts about any particular property or asset, make a note of this to discuss it further with your attorney. Then, when you’re ready, contact the compassionate Greenville, South Carolina, divorce attorneys at Greenville Family Law to find out how we can help.

Are Your Friends and Relatives Asking Questions About Your Greenville, South Carolina, LGBT Family?

While LGBT families are becoming far more open in today’s society, with legal protections and acknowledgement, there are still a lot of hurdles to be faced. One of the most common issues that we hear about with LGBT families is that their friends and relatives are still questioning their lifestyle, the health of their family and children, and whether their marriages are legitimate. Today, we’re going to look at some of the questions and topics you may be dealing with from your loved ones.

Understanding What Sexual Orientation Means in Your Life

Many people are still very confused by LGBT families because they think it is a choice or an issue of discord between yourself and members of the opposite sex. It is important for your loved ones to know that your sexual orientation is a natural attraction rather than a response to trauma, resentment, or any other factor in your life. You are not someone who needs to be fixed because you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. There are four parts of your sexuality, as defined by the American Psychological Association. These are: 1) Your biological sex, determined by the organs you are born with; 2) Your gender identity, referring to your psychological identity as male or female; 3) Your social sex role, as determined by your tendency to adhere to cultural norms; and 4) Your sexual orientation, in terms of who you are attracted to. There are many who will argue whether the fourth factor is determined by your genetics or your upbringing and early childhood experiences. Yet, the truth is that this is not really the point. Your sexual orientation may be shaped by biological factors, psychological factors, and/or social factors, and you may be entirely different from someone else who identifies as you do. In the end, what matters is that you are happy with your life.

Are the Children of LGBT Families in Greenville, South Carolina, More Likely to Be Abused?

For many LGBT parents, this is the most insulting question that their loved ones can ask them. Yet, it is a question that is often asked. Far too many people assume that those who identify as LGBT are sexual predators. In many cases your friends and family may not think this of you, but they may think that it is the case with the person you love. It is important to note here that sexual orientation is not related to perversion. There have been studies and extensive research into the topic, and those who do abuse children identify as heterosexual in the vast majority of abuse cases. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that LGBT parents are more likely to abuse their children or have their children abused by others. If you have people asking you this kind of insulting question, remember that they have been misinformed and misguided by those who preach intolerance and ask them to learn the facts.

Are Kids in Greenville, South Carolina, LGBT Families More Likely to Be Bullied in School?

This question is more understandable, as everyone is aware of the likelihood of children being bullied in school for a variety of reasons, including having a different family background than their peers. This has been true for children of single parent homes, for children without parents, and for children with LGBT parents. Having said that, all children are at risk of being bullied in school for a vast array of perceived differences. They can be bullied for wearing glasses, for being short, for being tall, for wearing a different style of clothes, for liking different books or music. The important thing is to ensure that all children are taught to stand up to bullying and not let others harm their psychological wellbeing. For most children in LGBT families, they are actually going to get more support at home and be more comfortable coming to their parents with any challenges they may face.

For example, imagine a heterosexual family scenario in which a boy who is small for his age is bullied at school. Yet, in this case, the boy doesn’t feel comfortable talking to his parents about the bullying. He may feel that they will blame him for lacking in sports talent or for failing to live up to their expectations. This is just an example, but it is likely one that you’ve seen before or at least similar to something you’ve witnessed. To compare this to a child from an LGBT family, the child is far more likely to feel comfortable talking to his parents about bullying, because there’s a good chance that they started the conversation. When parents let their kids know what is right, what is wrong, and when to talk to an adult, they are less likely to be severely harmed by bullying behavior. LGBT families know what it is to be bullied. Many of these parents have experienced discrimination and hate in their own lives and they are prepared to deal with any challenges that may arise by talking about it and taking action where necessary.

Will a Child in a Greenville, South Carolina, LGBT Family Grow Up to Also Identify as LGBT?

It is not impossible for a child who is raised by LGBT parents to grow up to also identify as LGBT. However, it is not any more likely to happen than it would in a heterosexual family. Studies and research have shown that kids are not more or less likely to identify as LGBT as adult when raised in an LGBT family. If it does happen, it is only because anyone can grow up to identify as LGBT, regardless of their family background. However, the child is going to know that they have the support and love of their family, no matter what sexual orientation they have as an adult.

Are You Facing Legal Challenges in Your Greenville, South Carolina, LGBT Family?

Another important thing to be aware of is that LGBT families are just as at risk for marital problems, custody problems, and other legal problems as heterosexual couples. They also often face the challenge of adopting a child or completing a step parent adoption. If you need an understanding LGBT family attorney in Greenville, South Carolina, contact Greenville Family Law to get a free consultation to find out how we can help.

Important Reasons to Be Careful With Social Media in a Greenville, South Carolina, Divorce

In today’s day and age, it has become quite rare for social media to not factor into divorce proceedings and child custody disputes. In fact, it is one of the important things that we’ll discuss at your initial consultation with our Greenville, South Carolina family law attorneys. Not only will you need to change your passwords and make sure that your profiles and posts are set to private or ‘friends only,’ but you’ll also have to think about all of the people who are on your friends list, whether they are also friends of your ex-spouse, and whether anything that you’ve posted could be used against you. At the same time, you might be wise to investigate your ex-spouse’s social media accounts and get screen shots of anything that might be necessary to prove certain points in your case. While doing so, be aware that they are likely going to do the same thing and make the appropriate changes to your account.

Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Inadequate Parenting Ability

One of the biggest issues in most Greenville, South Carolina divorce cases is the subject of child custody and visitation. This is often the most emotional of issues, and social media can absolutely be used to provide evidence that one parent is better or worse than the other. If one parent appears to always have the children, for example, as indicated by their social media accounts, then this could indicate that the other parent is not as present as they should be. If one parent’s social media account is filled with evidence that they live a ‘party lifestyle,’ then this too could indicate that they are the less capable parent. In many cases, people use social media to vent their frustrations, share their political and religious views, and discuss how they feel about absolutely everything. All of this could benefit or harm your case when it comes to Greenville, South Carolina, family law concerns.

Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Income that Hasn’t Been Reported

Another frequent issue that involves social media accounts is the issue of sharing too much about your income, your vacations, your big purchases, etc. If you complete your Financial Declaration, which is required in a divorce, in such a way that indicates that you are low income, but your social media accounts appear to be those of someone with a much higher income, then this could harm you. At the same time, if your ex-spouse is lying about their income, then you may find evidence of this on their social media accounts and would be wise to take screen shots before he or she has a chance to remove these potentially incriminating posts. Further, anything on your social media account that seems to deviate from what you have reported can call your credibility into question throughout the divorce.

Social Media Accounts Can Provide Evidence of Cheating or Adultery Within the Marriage

In the past, a spouse who was cheated on would need a private investigator to prove it. This is still an option, of course, but you may not need it. Social media has become an excellent source of evidence of such affairs and adulterous behaviors within a marriage. It is important to avoid getting into a relationship – or at least to avoid creating any evidence of a new relationships – until your divorce is final. Even though the new relationship may have started after your official separation, it can be easy to argue that you were actually cheating the whole time.

Social Media Accounts Are Rarely as Private and Personal as You Think They Are

While you might have your social media accounts set to ‘friends only’ or ‘private,’ that doesn’t mean that everything you share and post is as private and personal as you might imagine. For one thing, even if you have blocked your ex-spouse so that they can’t see any of your posts, there’s a good chance that at least one of your friends is also friends with your ex, and will allow them to see what they want from their account. Further, it is entirely possible for your accounts to be subpoenaed if they are believed to be relevant to the divorce case, such as if they could prove adultery.

You Need to Be Aware of the Impact of Past, Present, and Future Social Media Posts

With this information, you may be tempted to jump on your phone or computer and start deleting all of your past posts. Unfortunately, doing so could cause more harm than good. This is because of the legal doctrine of ‘spoliation,’ which indicates that if you are in possession of evidence that could be used to prove something against you, and if you get rid of that evidence, then the court is allowed to infer that the given evidence did, in fact, prove something against you. You will have to make the decision yourself as to whether or not the given information that you are considering getting rid of by deleting posts will be more or less harmful than what will happen if you are found to have deleted it.

You have far more control over the posts that you share in the present and future. You can choose not to post at all or to only post positive things and things that make you look like a better person and a better parent. Avoid posting anything that is related to partying, drug use, other relationships, etc. Don’t post about your purchases, your vacations, or your employment. Think about everything before you post, including what each post might look like from the perspective of a judge.

You Need to Be Aware of the Impact of Social Media Posts Made By Your Children

One thing that never even occurs to those who are going through a divorce and facing child custody issues is that their children’s social media posts could be relevant, too. If your children are at an age where they have their own social media accounts and are allowed to do so, they may post just as much as anyone else about their lives and feelings. In fact, they most post more than the average adult, with less inhibitions and less positive judgment in terms of what they share.  The best thing that you can do in such a situation is to teach your children about how to use social media appropriately and how to avoid over-sharing about their lives and feelings in public posts. If they are struggling with emotions and the challenges of your divorce, consider getting them into therapy to have a healthy outlet.

Contact Greenville Family Law For More Advice About Your Family Law Concerns

If you have questions about your divorce, child custody concerns, or how social media may be used to help or harm you, contact a skilled Greenville, SC divorce law attorney at Robert Clark at Greenville Family Law for legal advice.

How Common Law Marriage Works for Straight and LGBT Couples in Greenville, South Carolina

Not all states recognize common law marriage, but South Carolina is among the ones that still do. Now that laws have changed concerning LGBT marriages and relationships, the same factors that apply to straight couples in common law marriages apply to LGBT couples as well. Yet, many people are not clear on how it all works. Some think that all you have to do is live together for a certain amount of time. Others may decide, on separating, that theirs was a common law marriage and request a divorce, while the other party denies that the relationship was ever the equivalent of a marriage. Today, we’ll discuss what constitutes a common law marriage, and what you can do if you want to be recognized as a married couple without going through any kind of ceremony or getting a marriage license.

Why Might A Couple Decide to Recognize their Relationship as a Common Law Marriage?

Not everyone places a lot of significance on ceremonies or can afford to have one. In the case of LGBT couples, there may have been a marriage ceremony years ago, back when it was not possible to be legally married, but which held the same emotional significance as if it had been a legal union. Yet, not everyone feels the need to request permission to be in a martial union with a marriage license and an official ceremony. This does not mean that those couples don’t view themselves as married and don’t deserve to be recognized as a married couple for various reasons.

For example, when you are recognized as a married couple, you can benefit from your spouse’s insurance policy, inherit their assets if they pass away, and have a number of legal rights that you would not otherwise have. You are also protected in the event of a separation, by being entitled to get a legal divorce which fairly divides assets and addresses child custody and support concerns.

How Can You Prove that Your Relationship is a Common Law Marriage in Greenville, South Carolina?

In most common law marriages, both parties agree that they are a married couple, though they may still need to prove it for various reasons. In other cases, the issue of being a married couple by common law could come up only when the couple decides to separate, and it may need to be proven by the spouse who insists that it was a common law marriage when the other denies it.

To prove that your relationship constitutes a common law marriage in Greenville, South Carolina, you must show that you have acted and presented yourselves as a married couple to your family and friends. You must also show that both parties are legally allowed to be married to each other, so that neither can be married to anyone else, be too young to marry, or be closely related to their partner.  You must also prove that you have lived together, though there is no legal requirement for how long you have lived together. Having said that, cohabitating for a couple of months will not be taken as seriously as a cohabitation that lasted for several years. It is important to understand that the courts are going to look into the unique circumstances of your relationship if they must make a decision concerning whether or not your relationship is to be recognized as common law marriage.

Other ways to prove that you are in a common law marriage include records of filing your taxes as married filing jointly, sharing the same last name (which you may do with a name change), having joint checking and savings accounts, purchasing property or a home together, and evidence of contracts that you have entered into jointly. If you are in a common law marriage, then you must get divorced when you separate or you will not be able to fairly divide property or remarry in the future.

How Can You Legally Change Your Name in a Common Law Marriage in Greenville, South Carolina?

One thing that helps to establish that you are in a common law marriage in Greenville, South Carolina, is sharing the same last name. Fortunately, it is possible to legally change your name without actually having to go through with a legal marriage ceremony and process. Marriage is one way that you can get your last name changed, as is divorce, depending on your circumstances, but you can also change your last name by petitioning the court, updating your social security card, and using your new name.

If you are attempting to change your name outside of an official marriage or divorce process, you will do so by petitioning the court with the appropriate forms. This will start with the original petition for a change of name, in which you explain your reasoning for doing so. You will then have to have a criminal background check, though you will not necessarily be denied your petition for having a criminal record. You simply need to disclose any criminal convictions that you may have up front. Then, you will need to provide any documents that relate to child support, alimony, or other such financial obligations. Next, you’ll sign a sworn affidavit, which indicates that you are being honest and upfront about all information. Finally, you will go in front of a judge to get your name change approved or denied.

As long as there is no good reason to deny your name change, such as fraudulent or illegal motives, and as long as you are open and honest about all information, you should be able to get your last name legally changed without too much trouble. This will result in an official order to change your name, which you can then use to update your ID, drivers’ license, social security card, insurance policies, and everything else that your name is on. You will take this order to the Social Security Office and the DMV, and get the appropriate forms to make the changes you wish to make.

From there, you will start using your new name in everything that you do. You need to be consistent about this so that you are not later accused of changing your name for fraudulent or illegal purposes. You should update your name with all friends and family, social media, email, credit cards, your employer, your bank, and everything else in your life that your name is attached to.

To learn more about changing your last name or proving a common law marriage, whether you are in a straight or LGBT relationship, contact a determined Greenville, SC family law attorney at Robert Clark at Greenville Family Law for a free consultation.

Helpful Information on Adoption in LGBT Families

The times have changed, and it is no longer considered unacceptable by most of society for LGBT couples to raise children. Of course, not everyone is on board with the idea, but more and more adoption agencies are working with LGBT couples to find loving homes for children and build happy families. In fact, more than 80% of all public adoption agencies have placed at least one child with gay and lesbian families.  Roughly 1/3 of all agencies (including private agencies) still reject LGBT applicants due to their religious beliefs or policies.

Do You Have Questions Concerning LGBT Adoption?

If you have considered adopting a child, then you probably have a lot of questions about how to start the process, the challenges associated with the process, and how long it’s going to take. You or your family might also have questions about the likelihood of your future adopted child experiencing problems associated with adoption or being raised in an LGBT family. Today, we’ll answer the most common questions that we hear about the LGBT adoption process as well as some of the questions that you family might be asking.

How Can LGBT Couples Prepare for the Adoption Process?

Like any other couple, you’ll need to give adoption a lot of thought before committing to it and beginning the process. Think about how long you’ve been with your partner and your level of dedication to the relationship. Be aware that the process can take a long time and it can be frustrating, overwhelming, and challenging for anyone. You also need to keep in mind that it takes time to develop a bond with your adopted child, and there will be hurdles along the way.  Make sure that you are emotionally and mentally prepared for the unexpected.

What Does it Take for an LGBT Couple to Become Licensed to Adopt a Child?

The process of becoming licensed to adopt as an LGBT couple is no different than it is for heterosexual couples. There are multiple steps, which include attending interviews, filling out plenty of paperwork, and completing questionnaires. You will likely have to take some classes and you will have a home visit. The home visit or home study involves a social worker visiting your home, providing information, and collecting information. There is also likely to be a home visit from a worker from the adoption agency you’re working with. The requirements will vary based on the agency, but most will request personal references and documents, like birth certificates, criminal checks, etc.

What are the State Laws Concerning LGBT Adoption in South Carolina?

Every state has its own laws concerning LGBT adoptions. In South Carolina, a single LGBT parent can legally petition for a license to adopt a child. Same sex parents are also allowed to petition jointly for a license to adopt a child. Further, there is so specific law prohibiting an LGBT partner from petitioning to adopt a child in a step parent adoption.

How Long Does it Take to Get Through the Adoption Process?

These days, LGBT families do not usually end up dealing with a longer process than straight parents. LGBT adoptions have gained acceptance and support for many people, and more and more birthparents are making the proactive choice to place their children with LGBT couples. Even so, the process can be lengthy, and patience will be required.

There may be a requirement to take pre-adoption courses, there will be a home study, and it takes time to match any couple with an adopted child. The two primary phases of adoption are the pre-placement phase and the post-placement phase. The pre-placement phase is where the home study and necessary classes take place. There is a waiting period that will vary based on different factors. For example, with special needs children, the process doesn’t take as long. For infants, the process can take two to seven years. The post-placement period involves at least six months of supervision prior to finalizing the adoption.

Throughout this time, you can work on preparing your home and your family for the adoption. You may find that certain family members have questions (and you may even have concerns) about the wellbeing and challenges of raising an adopted child in an LGBT home.

Do Adopted Children in LGBT Homes Experience More Problems?

The big question on many people’s minds is whether or not an adopted child in an LGBT home is going to experience more problems than any other child, adopted or otherwise. Adoption itself comes with challenges, but no more in an LGBT adoption than any other.

Although plenty of people still want to suggest otherwise, there is no actual evidence that there is any impairment of parenting abilities or childhood mental and emotional wellness concerns associated with LGBT families. The number one factor in any adoption, regardless of sexual orientation, is the couple’s ability to provide a healthy and happy home.

Children from LGBT families are found to be just as intelligent, just as popular, and just as self-confident as children from straight families. Further, there is no indication that a child’s gender identity or sexual orientation is affected by that of their parents. The likelihood of a child raised in an LGBT family of being homosexual or transgendered is no greater than the likelihood of the same being true of a child from a heterosexual family. Gender identity, sexual orientation, and role-behavior develops similarly in all children from all backgrounds.

A common concern is whether or not other children will mistreat or reject a child because of their family background. The answer to this is that it is absolutely possible that the child will face adversity for this reason or any other. The child may also face adversity for their appearance, their academic or sports performance, their style and interests, or any number of things. This is certainly no reason to change your mind about adoption. In fact, as an LGBT parent, you have likely faced prejudice and discrimination, and you could be just the person to teach a growing child how to overcome adversity, whatever the cause.

To learn more about LGBT adoption and how South Carolina law applies to your family goals, contact a determined LGBT family law lawyer at Greenville Family Law for a free consultation.