Deciding to divorce from your spouse can be one of the most difficult decisions in your life. However, once that decision is made, there will be countless other emotional problems to face down. If you have had children together, who gets custody? How often can the other spouse visit them?
One of these issues following a decision to divorce is what property you get to keep, and what your spouse gets to keep. This is where the family laws of South Carolina come into play. Having a basic understanding of some of these laws can help you better prepare for a divorce.
Marital Versus NonMarital Property
The first thing to understand is the difference between marital property and nonmarital property. The basic thing to know is that marital property is anything accumulated by either spouse during the course of the marriage, and which is still owned by either spouse. Nonmarital property is that which was acquired before the marriage, via inheritance or gift to one spouse alone, or that which was expressly excluded by a prenuptial agreement.
South Carolina Follows the Rule of Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
Once it has been determined what is marital property and what is nonmarital property, the question becomes how it gets distributed after a divorce.
Like most other states in the U.S., South Carolina follows the rule of equitable distribution of the pool of marital property. Under this rule, you and your spouse have a right to all marital property. It does not matter if your house only has one spouse’s name on it; if it was acquired during the marriage, both you and your spouse have equal rights to it. Additionally, even if money was kept in a secret bank account, if it was acquired during the marriage, both you and your spouse will have equal rights to it.
Upon divorce, the court will try to split you and your spouse’s marital property equitably, or fairly. This does not necessarily mean that it will be split equally, though. Instead, the court will look to a variety of factors to determine what would be an equitable distribution, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- Whether there was adultery, abuse, or other marital misconduct during the marriage;
- The age of you and your spouse;
- You and your spouse’s earning potential and current income;
- The need for either you or your spouse to get training or go back to school in order to get back into the workforce;
- Child custody agreements;
- Alimony payments awarded; and
- Any debts on the marital property.
Having an Experienced Divorce Attorney on Your Side Early in the Process Can Help
Even if you are not sure whether you want to divorce your spouse yet, talking to an experienced divorce attorney can provide plenty of information and peace of mind about what to expect regarding how your property will be split. Contact an experienced Greenville, SC divorce attorney at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC to set up an appointment.