Areas of Practice

Divorce

Divorce laws differ from state to state. In South Carolina, living separate and apart in different residences for a period of one year is one of the most commonly used ground for a divorce. Additionally, there are three fault grounds: adultery, habitual intoxication and physical cruelty. Emotional or mental cruelty, while evidence which may be used in your case, is not grounds for divorce. In every divorce, the grounds must be corroborated by a witness other than the two parties to the divorce.

When grounds for a divorce do not yet exist, a person should seek to resolve all of the other issues that arise as a result of their separation. Child custody, child support, alimony and division of property and debts need to be resolved as soon after a separation as possible to reduce the on-going conflict between the parties.

Contempt Proceedings

A Court Order is meant to be strictly obeyed.  The penalty for violating a Court Order can be up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,500.00, and/or up to 300 hours of community service. 

If you are not able to live up to your obligations under your Court Order, you should seek immediate assistance from an attorney before a bad situation becomes worse. If your former spouse or the parent of your child is not following the Court Order, you may need to file a Rule to Show Cause action and seek to enforce compliance with the Court Order.

Turning the page
to your next chapter.

Child Support

South Carolina has guidelines for use in computing the appropriate amount of child support to be paid for the support of the children. Child support is to be used to pay obvious expenses for the children, such as food and clothing. Child Support is also used to help cover the costs of providing shelter, electricity, water and transportation for the children.  The parent who receives child support does not have to account for how the money is spent.

Child support is an independent issue from visitation. There may be situations where visitation is not appropriate but child support must be paid. Likewise, there may be situations where visitation will be ordered but child support is not. 

Custody & Visitation

Custody and visitation can be two of the most difficult issues in a case. How do you put a price tag on the welfare of your children? This is why traditional custody cases can be so expensive. I have been active in several initiatives designed to promote a fast and cooperative resolution of custody and visitation issues. This benefits the children by removing them from the financial issues and giving them stability during chaotic times. It benefits the parents by significantly reducing the overall cost of the divorce. 

I believe that parents love their children and want to spare them from the trauma of lengthy custody litigation. I work with my clients to help them see past the hurt and anger of the divorce and to develop a Parenting Plan that will best serve the children in the short term, as well as the long term. This detailed Parenting Plan allows parents to be more flexible with each other because if a disagreement arises they have the solution to the problem in writing.  My hope for my clients is that by addressing potential problem areas ahead of time, they will avoid going back to Court in the future. 

Unfortunately, there are certain situations that do not lend themselves to easy solutions.  Substance abuse by a parent, physical cruelty in the home, abuse of a child and mental illnesses are all unique situations that have to be addressed.

Focusing on
conflict resolution

Mediation & Arbitration

Mediation is a highly effective Alternative Dispute Resolution process that allows the parties and their attorneys to sit down with a trained neutral person to help find creative ways to resolve the issues in Family Court cases. Mediation is non-binding and is required before a final hearing is scheduled. Mediation is not necessary when the parties already have an agreement.

Arbitration is another Alternative Dispute Resolution process where the neutral party’s role is to hear the evidence and make a decision that is binding on the parties. The arbitrator acts as the judge in the case.

Cooperative Law

Cooperative Law is an alternative approach to handling family law cases. In a cooperative case, as in collaborative law, the parties agree to informal discovery, use of joint experts, and a less hostile approach to litigation. Divorce is hard enough without the extra emotional damage that can be inflicted in contested litigation. Parents of children will continue to be involved with each other long past the conclusion of their divorce case. The more amicable the resolution, the better the long term outcome will be.

My goal in utilizing a cooperative style is to resolve disputes as quickly, inexpensively and amicably as possible while obtaining the best result for my client.

Let us do
the worrying.

Alimony

Alimony is the substitute for the support obligation owed by one spouse to the other as a result of the marriage. There is no “alimony formula” to give judges, lawyers, and litigants an easy answer. Some of the factors to be considered in deciding whether or not alimony should be awarded include, but are not limited to: the length of the marriage, employment history, the current incomes and/or earning potential of each party, physical and mental health of each party, education, standard of living each party has become accustomed to during the marriage, custody of the children, support obligation from a prior marriage, possible tax consequences of support, marital and non-marital property, and marital misconduct of either spouse. There are several types of alimony, such as rehabilitative alimony, permanent, periodic alimony and lump sum alimony.

Adultery is an absolute bar to alimony. Adultery is proven by circumstantial evidence of opportunity and inclination.

Equitable Distribution

In South Carolina, marital assets and debts are to be equitably, or fairly, divided.  In many cases, that means a 50/50 division, but there are numerous factors to be considered in arriving at the appropriate division. 

South Carolina law defines marital assets and debts.  For instance, inherited property is usually not marital property.  South Carolina law also determines what types of assets and debts are the separate property of a spouse.

Property that starts out as separate property may change character and be determined to be marital property under the docrine of transmutation. An example of transmuted property is inherited land that is then titled in both spouses’ names.

Use of Experts

There are several types of experts who may be very useful and cost effective in helping resolve the issues in your case. I work with a number of private investigators, CPAs, real estate appraisers, bankruptcy lawyers and mental health professionals to assist with the preparation of the case.

While the expert’s fees are in addition to my retainer, use of experts is necessary and desirable in many cases to help keep the total cost down and, most importantly, to obtain the best result possible for my client.

Credible Experience.

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