Call Aun and McKay Columbia Divorce/Family Law Attorneys: 866-900-9992 or 803-744-0824
I have been practicing family law since 1997. Family law involves divorce, child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, division of property and debt, and a host of other issues that can arise through marriage or simply having a child together. Family law litigants can be charged with emotion and sometimes anger. This can result in huge legal bills while people fight over issues than normally can be resolved through attorneys that are reasonable and able to compromise. Make no mistake, if the other side is unwilling to be reasonable then we will certainly litigate the matter as aggressively as needed in order to protect our clients’ rights.
Recently, the state has undergone massive changes in family law. There have been changes to factors to determine custody. There have been changes to the rules regarding temporary hearings. There have been changes to the required documents necessary to address issues of child custody. There have been changes as to the requirement to pay college education.
Most folks want information as to how a divorce or family law matter is started and the process for a family court case. At Aun and McKay, we want to be your lawyers and in order to show our desire to assist you, I am providing on this website a summary as to how a typical family court case flows by way of example.
John and Jane Doe have been married for 18 years. They have 3 children all under the age of 18. John is employed as an engineer and makes a good living. Jane has a college education but has not worked since the parties’ children were born—approximately 14 years ago.
Jane suspects that John is having an affair but she needs proof. Jane needs to consult with a lawyer as to retaining the services of a quality private investigator. This is critical because like any other industry, there are private investigators that will take advantage of Jane in her emotionally weakened state.
Jane consults with a lawyer and then retains a private investigator. She receives a report that confirms her suspicions. What is the next step? She’s angry and wants him to move out. She confronts him with the evidence (which she should not do, speak with a lawyer first) and he refuses to leave. What are her options?
Hire an attorney and file a lawsuit for divorce and request a temporary hearing. In South Carolina, if you have a fault ground for divorce (physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, adultery, or abandonment) then the Family Court has jurisdiction to determine who needs to leave the home.
After the suit is filed, the Court will schedule a temporary hearing. There is no testimony taken at this hearing…only affidavits are submitted. The number documents submitted depends on the length of time requested.
At this hearing, I anticipate that the Court would require the husband to leave the home and he will have to pay child support and alimony and/or contribute toward the expenses necessary to maintain to former marital home. The Court may or may not require that the husband repay fees for the private investigator, but I would certainly request it. I would also request that husband contribute to the wife’s attorney’s fees on a temporary basis but again that is up to the Court.
If the husband attempts to make some challenge to custody in order to scare the wife, he needs to be careful. In the event that the Court does not determine that the custody challenge had merit then he could be subjected to paying all of the attorney’s fees and Guardian (lawyer appointed to investigate issues of custody) fees.
The case is then in system to await a final trial date in the event the parties cannot settle. In most cases, the parties will be required to undergo mediation (a process where the parties share in the costs of a lawyer who attempts to settle the case between the parties, but the mediator makes no decisions). If the case settles then the agreement is approved and a divorce granted. If not then the case is tried before a Family Court judge.
This is a simple summary of how the process begins and possibly ends. You need a good family court lawyer to help navigate issues relating to division of retirement, sale and refinance of the former marital home, rights to alimony and child support, potential health insurance issues (most health insurance ends upon divorce), and host of other issues involved in the dissolution of a marriage.