If you and your spouse have reached the conclusion that you marriage is no longer working, it may be time to consider divorce. Although going through a divorce is never easy, for anyone involved, it can be accomplished in an amicable manner if both parties agree to an uncontested divorce that resolves all relevant issues without the need for protracted litigation. On the other hand, when one, or both, of the parties becomes adversarial, the divorce will quickly turn into a contested divorce.
In legal terms, all divorces are either “contested” or “uncontested.” In simple terms, an uncontested divorce is one in which all issues in the divorce have been agreed to by the parties, doing away with the need for discovery, hearings, and ultimately a trial. A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one in which at least one issue remains unresolved, meaning the parties are unable to agree on a solution for that issue. Common issues that cause a divorce to become contested include:
- Custody of minor children – although most states now prefer to use terms such as “time-sharing” and “parenting time” instead of “custody” and “visitation”, the reality is that a minor child will usually spend the majority of the time with one parent post-divorce. If both parents want to be the primary parent after the divorce it will cause the divorce to be contested.
- Visitation with minor children – during the divorce process, the parents of a minor child must be able to create a “Parenting Plan” that addresses issues relating to how the parents will parent the child after the divorce. Visitation is one of those issues. If the parents cannot agree on a visitation, or “parenting time” schedule, the divorce is considered a contested divorce.
- Division of marital property and debt—during the divorce, all marital property and debts must be divided among the parties. In South Carolina all marital property is divided using an “equitable apportionment” philosophy if the parties cannot agree on a division of property. Likewise, debts are divided equitably. Note that “equitable” does not mean even, but instead refers to a “fair” division of property.
- Child or Spousal support – child support is usually calculated using the formula outlined in the Child Support guidelines, leaving little room for argument and debate. Spousal support, however, is certainly open to negotiation and often leads to a divorce being contested.
If you have additional questions or concerns about divorce in South Carolina, contact the experienced South Carolina family law attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.