South Carolina law makes a clear distinction between marital property and nonmarital property for the purposes of a property division during divorce proceedings. The characterization of property as marital or nonmarital is essential to determining a fair and equitable property division award in a divorce. By having a clear understanding of this distinction between the different types of property, you can get a better sense of how property is likely to be divided in your divorce.
Defining Marital Property Under South Carolina Law
South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 20-3-630 defines marital property as all real and personal property that either spouse acquired during the marriage, and which one or both of the spouses owns as of the date that the divorce is filed. This is the case regardless as to how the property is titled or held; even if real estate is titled only in one spouse’s name, it still constitutes marital property if they purchased it during the marriage. Marital property also includes gifts that spouses give one another during the marriage. Additionally, marital property encompasses all vested and nonvested funds that accrued during the marriage. This type of marital property might include retirement accounts, stocks accounts, and pensions. The divorce court has the power to divide all marital property during the divorce proceedings.
Defining Nonmarital Property Under South Carolina Law
Nonmarital property includes a number of different types of property, including the following:
- Property received as a gift or inheritance by either spouse, or the proceeds thereof;
- Property obtained prior to the marriage;
- Property obtained after the divorce court has issued an order, or the parties have signed a settlement agreement;
- Property excluded due to a prenuptial agreement; and
- Any increase in the value of nonmarital property.
The divorce court has no authority to divide nonmarital property during divorce proceedings. Whichever spouse is the owner of the nonmarital property remains the sole owner of the nonmarital property after the divorce is final.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
Like many other states, South Carolina is an equitable distribution state. Equitable, however, does not necessarily mean equal. Rather, it means fair based upon the parties’ circumstances. For instance, if one spouse has a far greater earning capacity than the other, an unequal property division order may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances. Property division under South Carolina law also may take into account the marital debts of the parties. While some spouses are able to work out an acceptable property settlement agreement on their own, other spouses are unable to agree. In this case, the divorce court will apply South Carolina law in deciding what the appropriate property division should be.
Contact Your South Carolina Divorce Attorney Today
At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, we know the difficulties of property division during a South Carolina divorce. Whether your divorce involves purely property and financial matters or also involves child custody and visitation, we will work hard on your behalf to represent your interests and build a strong case. Call a Greenville, South Carolina divorce attorney in our office today and learn how our divorce lawyers can make a difference in your pending divorce case.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.