I have a simple divorce. How much
do you charge?
A divorce is simple if it is uncontested and you do not
have children and you do not have any assets or debts to divide. Unless, it
meets all 3 criteria, you can face "complications". I generally charge a
retainer understanding that not many cases meet all 3 criteria. What
are some of the "complications" in a divorce?
The attitude of your
spouse can make your life miserable and your divorce costly. Cases that should
be super simple become drawn out and expensive because of your spouse's
attitude. We won't know this dynamic until we're into your case. top of pageCan we use
A lawyer who represents both parties has a conflict of
interest. Because of that conflict, I don't represent both of you. It's always
best to hire your own lawyer to represent only your best interests. top of pageBut we
already figured out what we want to do and just need an attorney to write it
down - will you do that?
Yes. But I'll still only represent one of you.
I'll help ensure that you covered all of your bases in your negotiations with
your spouse. You may have overlooked important issues that you need to take
care of now. If you don't, they may rear their ugly head later and become even
more costly to fix.top of
pageHow long will it take to get divorced?
depends on how much you and your spouse agree on things and what ground for
divorce you have. Even if you don't have a ground to get divorced immediately,
you can still settle your case and have the court approve your agreement and
get financial and custody issues behind you as you wait for a no-fault
(one-year separation) divorce. top
of pageDoes my spouse have to go to court?
best for both you and your spouse to go to court. If you've settled your case,
the family court still needs to approve your agreement after which it becomes a
court order. To approve your agreement, the judge has to conclude that both of
you entered into it knowingly, freely, and voluntarily. Once your agreement
becomes a court order, it's enforceable through all of the family court's
contempt powers. That means if you or your spouse willfully violate any of its
terms, you could go to jail for up to 1 year and/or be fined up to $1,500.00
and/or perform up to 300 hours of community service. At the hearing to approve
your agreement, the judge or the attorneys ask both you and your spouse lots of
questions to ensure that you know all of this. So it's best for the 2 of you to
be there. But, if for some good reason you or your spouse cannot, there are
certain things we can do to still give the judge all of this information so
your agreement can be approved. top
of pageWhat if my spouse and I do not agree and I have to
sue for custody, child support, alimony, property, and other things. Is it best
if I start the lawsuit (e.g. I am the Plaintiff)?
If you file first, you
will be the Plaintiff. The court papers are called the "Complaint". You then
have to pay the filing fees and process server expenses to put those papers in
your spouse's hands. If your spouse files first, then s/he will have to pay
them. Don't sweat it if your spouse files first. Instead of being the
Plaintiff, you will then be the Defendant. You still get your day in court. The
court papers that are filed for the Defendant are called the "Answer and
Counterclaim". We put the same things in it that we put in the Complaint.
pageWhat is joint custody?
There is joint legal
and physical custody. Joint physical custody is where both parents share an
equal amount of time with the children (e.g. one week-one week). Joint legal
custody is where both parents participate in making important decisions about
how their children are raised. Most joint custody is "joint legal custody"
where the children primarily live with one parent and the other parent has very
liberal visitation but both share responsibility in child rearing. We usually
negotiate that the parent with whom the children primarily live has final say
when the parents disagree on child-rearing. top of pageWhat is the
standard visitation schedule?
There is none. Different judges view it
differently. The non-custodial parent usually exercises visitation every other
weekend, maybe some time during week, alternating holidays (which can be
extended to coincide with the time school is on break for Thanksgiving,
Christmas, and Spring Break), and extended summer visitation. The exact amount
of time is negotiable. top of
pageHow is child support calculated?
South Carolina child support guidelines. Though you can check them out on the
DSS website at http://www.state.sc.us/dss/csed/calculator.htm beware - they are
not accurate. However, they will give you a rough idea about how much child
support you will receive or pay. Judges use a different software program which
I use too.top of
page Can I have child support paid through "the
Yes. Child support can be paid through the Clerk of Court's
office. On top of the amount of child support that the guidelines calculate,
the paying parent will also be assessed a 5% administrative fee which the
Clerk's office keeps. The turn-around time is very fast from when the Clerk's
office receives the money to when you get it. top of pageWill my spouse have to pay my
Maybe. Just because your spouse is "at fault" does not
mean a judge will require him or her to pay your attorney's fees or costs.
There are specific guidelines that judges use and "fault' is not on the