Our attorneys handle uncontested divorces in Charleston, South Carolina. With some divorces the husband and wife are looking to go their separate ways without the expense and heartache of fighting with each other in family court. These couples usually wonder whether they need to hire a lawyer or each hire their own lawyers to get divorced. They know they need to bring their case to family court, but they do not know the process from there.
When is a Divorce Uncontested in South Carolina?
There are many issues for couples to consider if one or both want a divorce. If there are children, they need to address custody, visitation, support, and other details regarding the children. Marital property needs to be divided. Marital debts need to be apportioned. They need to decide whether one party will pay alimony to the other or whether they will both waive alimony. These are just some of the issues depending on the particular situation. If the parties are in full agreement on all of the issues, the divorce is oftentimes called “uncontested.”
What About Do-It-Yourself Separation Agreements in South Carolina?
There are plenty of free, and paid, online separation agreements. To be fair, some of these forms a not bad at all. However, when it comes to a divorce, one size doesn’t fit all. Your needs, your spouse’s needs, and your children’s needs are unique. In the end, you will be better served to speak with a lawyer about your situation before trying to cram the future of your family into a template separation agreement. Here’s just one of many examples why template divorce agreements don’t always work. In South Carolina, there are inheritance rights for a spouse when their husband or wife dies without a will. Just because you have a separation agreement doesn’t mean that these inheritance rights go away if the other spouse should die before the divorce is finalized. In the template forms I’ve seen, none of them address this issue. Again, this is just one of many examples of the short-comings of separation template forms.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?
It’s possible to obtain a divorce without a lawyer. However, we’ve had clients come to us in the past because they attempted the process and found themselves unsuccessful in court. There are several procedural requirements that must be met. The paperwork must be correct. For example, both parties must have financial declarations on file. Also, even if you think the agreement you’ve come up with is a good one, the family court still has to decide whether its fair and equitable to both parties and in the best interests of any children involved. If you choose to attempt this process on your own, we strongly encourage you to at least schedule a consultation so that you know your rights and have a better understanding of the process in family court. The consultation could actually save you time and money in the long run.
Additionally, oftentimes when we review an agreement that spouses have written, we spot details that neither spouse thought of. When this happens, we can likely help with a solution. Here are some examples:
1) Marital Home – In some cases, both the husband and wife are on the deed, note, and mortgage of the marital home. Although they decided that the one of them will keep the home and be responsible for the mortgage payments, they forgot that they are both remain obligated to the bank, so the other spouse can’t get a loan to buy a new home. The solution may require that the spouse keeping the home refinance the loan within a reasonable period of time, otherwise the house would need to be sold.
2) Parenting Schedule – As another example, the couple may have come up with a great parenting schedule that works for a pre-schooler, but they haven’t given thought to what schedule works best for everyone when the child enters school. In this instance, the family court may send you back to the drawing board to figure out a new parenting schedule. We can help you figure out a schedule that works both now and in the future.
3) Tax Consequences – In other cases, there are tax consequences to how property is transferred, support is paid, and other taxation issues that neither spouse considers when coming up with their agreement. When we advise our clients, we make them aware of how their agreement may impact them with the IRS in the future.
There are just three of many examples of where an uncontested divorce should remain uncontested, but the separation agreement needs a little fine tuning.
Can One Attorney Represent Both Parties in an Uncontested Divorce?
One attorney can’t represent both the husband and the wife. In 1981, the South Carolina Bar’s Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion stating: “The position of the
What’s the Legal Process for an Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?
In an uncontested divorce, we make sure your agreement is signed before anyone ever steps into the courtroom. After it is signed, we file a case with the court and request a hearing. We make sure all of the appropriate paperwork is prepared, and we attend the hearing to make sure everything runs smoothly. At the hearing, we have the agreement approved by the court so that it is enforceable, we proceed with the divorce, and if the wife wishes to resume her maiden name, she may can have that done at the time of the hearing.
I’ve Seen Ads for Uncontested Divorces for Less than $200. How Much Do You Charge?
I recently saw a poster on a telephone pole advertising uncontested divorces in Charleston, South Carolina for $150.00 even when there are children involved. Knowing the filing fee in family court costs this much, I was curious how any lawyer could advertise this fee for their services. So, I called the number and visited their website to find out more. As it turns out, this advertiser was NOT a law firm nor were they lawyers. Instead, these advertisers are non-lawyers who are charging people for the divorce forms and paperwork that are already FREE online from the South Carolina Judiciary including instructions. As written on one website, in fine print, “We are not attorneys, nor do we portray to be. All parties are ‘pro se’ and clients will file any and all court documents as ‘pro se.’ We do not offer or provide any legal advice,opinions,conclusions, persuasions or otherwise. The services provided are only administrative and of a clerical nature . . . .” To save you $150 for forms that are FREE online, click here —> South Carolina Simple Divorce Packet.
Like most family court lawyers in Charleston, we charge by the hour for our services. If your divorce is uncontested, we plan to keep it that way and to keep your hourly fees down to a minimum.
What’s the Deal With Waiting for One Year for the Divorce?
In South Carolina, a person must have a legal ground in order to obtain a divorce. The grounds for divorce are (1) one year continuous separation, (2) adultery, (3) physical cruelty, (4) habitual drunkenness or drug use, and (5) desertion. To “keep the peace,” most uncontested divorces we’ve seen are on the ground of one year continuous separation. This means that we can’t file for divorce until 365 days have passed since the parties separated. We caution couples not to spend one night together during this 365 days because it could reset the clock.
Even if you’re waiting on one year to get divorce, you can still go to family court to get your separation agreement approved by the court. This way, the parties don’t have to wait a year before they have an enforceable agreement.
Charleston Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
If you need a divorce attorney in Charleston, SC, contact Futeral & Nelson, LLC. Our lawyers have helped people in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Moncks Corner, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville and the surrounding areas.