One of the major problems in South Carolina’s family court is that many people try to over-simplify their situation. As family law attorneys in Charleston know, there are many aspects to a divorce, child custody, or child support case, and the more the attorneys knows about your case, the better it is for you.
Help Your Lawyer Understand the Facts in Your Case
There are many ways you can make your lawyer’s job easier and keep your legal fees and costs down. First, you should tell your lawyer as much as you can about your current situation, including any agreements previously made between you and your spouse prior to seeking the advice of an attorney. You should, however, avoid wasting your time and money telling your lawyer every detail about every disagreement or verbal exchange you have had with your spouse. Lawyers understand that their clients are going through an emotionally difficult time in their lives Oftentimes, however, you would do better to talk to your friends, family, or a counselor to address these issues (and the cost is usually much less than paying your lawyer to listen!).
Read Everything Carefully
Another way to work better with your attorney is to read carefully everything that is sent to you. Some paperwork requires that you respond to the other party or the court within a certain time period, otherwise you may jeopardize your case. For example, if a complaint for divorce is filed by your spouse in court and the paperwork is served on you (physically delivered), you then have thirty (30) days to file and serve your answer on the other party. In all, there is no substitute for early, thorough preparation. Do all that is required of you within the time frames that your lawyer gives you and your case may run smoother.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
Regarding your attorney fees and costs, too often parties allow their emotions to get the best of them and they spend more money on fighting than the case is worth. When all is said and done, and the divorce has long since been finalized, too many parties wonder why they spent thousands of dollars on their attorney to fight over some insignificant piece of property that would receive $20 at a garage sale. In other words, although it may be difficult in the heat of the moment, try to be pragmatic about your goals and needs and consider the cost to you when you chose to fight over certain issues.
Don’t Enter Into Agreements Without Consulting Your Lawyer
While your attorney is negotiating or litigating your case, or after you have a court order of divorce, be careful not to enter into written or verbal agreements with your spouse that change your formal agreement or divorce order. These agreements are oftentimes not binding and later not enforced by the courts when troubles arise. More often than not, you will increase the cost and time of your case by making unwise agreements with your spouse while your lawyer is attempting to negotiate or litigate your case. If you have reached such an agreement, contact your lawyer to present it to the court to make it formal and binding on the other party.
Remember that Family Law Cases Take Time
As a final note, you should understand that domestic cases take time. There is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce in South Carolina. First, it will take some time for your lawyer to gather all the information he or she needs to proceed with your case. Part of this time depends on how quickly you provide the information your attorney requests. Then, your attorney may need to request information from your spouse or such information may be requested of you. If done formally through the court, the each party typically has thirty (30) days within which to answer the other’s requests. Thereafter, unless your spouse has committed, among other things, adultery or spousal abuse, you may have to wait a year before your divorce action can be filed in the family court. Even after it is filed, it may be some time, depending on the court’s schedule, before your divorce is final. Matters such as custody battles can take years. So, try to have patience with your attorney and with the courts. Impatience will not speed up the process but it will cause you more concern.