Filing for divorce is not a decision people take lightly. A divorce is a complicated, time-consuming process where couples must systematically take apart the union they had created through marriage. This includes dividing property they acquired together, separating bank accounts the opened jointly, and even deciding where the children they had together will live.
Getting divorced is a legal process, and can be somewhat confusing for people, especially if it means having to slog through reading statutes full of somewhat stuffy and over-complicated legalese. Below are seven common South Carolina divorce myths that could trip you up if you’re not familiar with the state laws:
1) I’m Separated, Which Means I Can Now Date Other People
Just being separated from your spouse does not mean you are free to pursue other romantic relationships; in fact, it can actually hurt certain aspects of your divorce. You are still legally married, and the court may consider you to be committing adultery if you date other people. The court takes marital misconduct such as adultery into consideration when deciding on:
- Alimony awards: If you commit marital misconduct, you may not be awarded alimony. In fact, you may be ordered to pay alimony to your spouse.
- Custody of your minor children: If the court sees your new romantic relationship as a circumstance that has considerably changed your child’s life and well-being, it may decide to award custody to your spouse.
- Marital property awards: Deciding the equitable distribution of your marital assets is another area of divorce in which the court reviews claims of marital misconduct. If you are seen as committing adultery, you may receive a smaller share of the marital property.
2) I Haven’t Received My Child Support (or Alimony) Check, Which Means I Can Keep My Former Spouse from Seeing My Child
Child custody and child support are two different circumstances; one does not actually affect the other. Similarly, alimony is financial support for the spouse, and is calculated independently from child support. If your former spouse is not paying his or her court-ordered child support or alimony, you will need to take them to court to settle the matter. You cannot deny visitation rights or make any other changes to your custody agreement by yourself; custody modifications must also be done by the court.
3) I Am a Mother, Which Means I Will Be Awarded Custody of the Children
It’s true that South Carolina once had a law in place known as the “Tender Years Doctrine,” which automatically awarded custody of children in their “tender years” of age to the mother. However, the state has since abolished this rule and stated that it sees both parents as equal caregivers who deserve to have the same stake in their children’s upbringing. The court looks at a variety of factors when deciding what custody arrangement is best for the child.
4) I Am a Homemaker, Which Means I Will Automatically Get Alimony
Being a homemaker, even if it was something your spouse encouraged or asked of you, does not automatically entitle you to receive alimony. If you were to request alimony, you would definitely be considered, especially since you would be able to prove that you are the dependent spouse of your relationship, and your spouse financially supported you. But the court reviews other determinants too, such as your mental and physical health, your potential to earn an income, any prenuptial agreements you may have signed, and other factors as outlined in the statute. Additionally, if you are awarded alimony, it may only be for a certain period of time; the state’s alimony awards might be reform, with South Carolina potentially doing away with permanent periodic alimony. Even if you are awarded alimony, you might not be able to count on it as your means of survival, or at least not forever.
5) I Will Get Half of Everything in My Divorce
South Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means it divides marital property and debts equitably, or fairly, among each party. It does not necessarily mean the property and debts are divided evenly. See the statute for a list of factors the court considers when awarding marital property.
6) My Car Is in My Name Only So I Won’t Lose it in My Divorce
Marital property is all real and personal property that was purchased during the marriage up until the day a couple filed for divorce. The court specifically says property that falls under this definition is marital “regardless of how legal title is held.” That means your car is marital property, even if you bought it, the title is in your name, and you are the only one insured to drive it.
A possession that would not be considered marital property is an item you acquired before you were married or after you were divorced or legally separated, or an item that you inherited or were gifted by your family, so long as the gift or inheritance was specifically given only to you.
So if your late father left you the car in his will, it would then be considered personal property and would not be divided in your divorce.
7) If My Kids Ask to Live With Me, the Judge Will Have No Choice but to Allow It
The court may consider the personal preferences of the children. Consideration is weighed based on factors such as the child’s age, maturity, personal judgement, and experiences with his or her parents. But the court does not promise to give the child final say in the matter; what the court does promise is to make decisions regarding custody based on the health and well-being of the child. While a child may voice a preference, it is actually the court that gets final say in the matter.
Talk to Robert Clark – An Accomplished Family Law Attorney – Today
The above examples illustrate a small portion of the divorce process; in order to get a better understanding of what divorce will be like for you personally, contact a dedicated Greenville family law attorney at the Greenville Family Law. Robert Clark has practiced in the local family courts for years, and can provide the knowledge you seek for your matter. He cares about your wellbeing and the outcome of your divorce. Call attorney Robert Clark today.