For your convenience, Attorney Stoddard has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about divorce.
How much will my divorce cost?
Lawyer Stoddard handles uncontested divorces for $1,050, which includes court costs. However, every contested divorce presents its own unique set of circumstances and challenges.
How long does the divorce process take?
Sometimes during a divorce there can be contested issues and coming to an agreement may prolong the overall process. Once all of the divorce terms have been agreed upon and the papers have been filed, you will receive a final decree of divorce after the mandatory 90-day waiting period.
What are the grounds for divorce in South Carolina?
- Physical cruelty (domestic violence)
- Habitual drunkenness
- Habitual use of drugs
- Living separate and apart for 1 year
Unfortunately, emotional abuse is not a ground for divorce. If you do not have grounds for divorce, other options are available to you.
What can I do if I have no grounds for a divorce?
Where you have no grounds for divorce, you may be able to end the marriage through an action for Separate Maintenance and Support, sometimes called an action for legal separation. These actions address the full range of divorce issues - child custody, visitation, property and debt division, child support, family support, alimony and lawyer's fees. In this action, you can have the court rule on all the issues listed above and decide those issues with finality. Once those issues have been decided by the court, whether by agreement of the parties or as the result of a contested trial, those issues are res judicata, a legal term meaning that the issues cannot be re-litigated.
The only remaining issue would be the divorce itself, which either party could obtain after the parties have been separated for one year. For the separation to be valid, you and your spouse must live in separate residences for a full year - sleeping in separate rooms does not amount to legal separation. An order of Separate Maintenance and Support also offers many advantages for people who want to be divorced. It allows them to settle issues without having to wait a year before you can even begin the action. Also, after the order is issued, adultery is no longer a ground for divorce.
How does the court determine child custody?
In South Carolina, the family court determines custody based on the best interest of the child. This approach focuses on what is best for the children, not the desires of the parents. However, if the parties can agree on custody and visitation, in almost every case the court will go along with the agreement.
Custody agreements must be approved by the court before they are enforceable. Thus, private custody agreements or powers of attorney for custody cannot be enforced until they are brought before the court and incorporated into a court order. If the parties cannot agree on custody and visitation, the court determines the best interest of the child or children based on evidence presented by the parties.
If you need an experienced trial lawyer, call The David F. Stoddard Law Firm at (864) 375-0000, or contact the firm online to schedule a free initial consultation for any of our legal areas of practice. The Stoddard Law Firm serves areas in and around Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg.