Myrtle Beach Complex Divorce Lawyer
Wedding plans rarely include thoughts of what will happen if things go wrong. The reality is that a large number of South Carolina marriages end in divorce. When you share multiple assets or businesses, dividing things up can require a highly skilled Myrtle Beach complex divorce lawyer.
At Indigo Family Law, we know that when you and your spouse are trying to settle details on property ownership, child custody, and personal possessions, you need help understanding how the state’s laws affect your decisions. Who gets what can be very complicated. You may need a high-asset divorce attorney to ensure a fair and equitable division.
What Makes a Divorce Complex
Complex divorce cases frequently involve high-net-worth individuals and their assets. There are also details around alimony and children that must be considered. These assets and concerns can include:
- Family businesses
- Primary and secondary residences
- Stocks, 401Ks, and pension funds
- Bank accounts
- Brokerage investment accounts
- Automotives, RVs, boats, planes, helicopters, or RVs
- Artwork or collectibles
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Visitation and custody of children
- Hidden assets in offshore accounts or digital currencies
In addition to the possessions and accounts, you must factor how the liabilities and debts will be divided. Your high-asset divorce lawyer must examine each spouse’s responsibility for credit card debt, car loans, mortgages, taxes, and student loans.
Determining who owns what part of these items can make for a challenging and painstaking case that lasts for years. Emotions can be a big part of these negotiations, requiring clients to rely on the experience and objectivity of their lawyers to guide them to the most beneficial settlement.
South Carolina is an Equitable Division State
South Carolina uses equitable division as the basis of divorce cases. This means each spouse presents their evidence and arguments before a Family Court judge, and the judge issues a decision. Many factors affect how marital assets are assigned:
- Whose name or names are on the asset title?
- Whose funds were used to purchase or maintain the asset?
- Did one spouse put more into the asset than the other?
- Was the asset a gift exclusively to one spouse from their family or friend?
Assets can include money, homes, land, rental units, automobiles, and other items. In many divorces, these things can be divided along the lines of who uses them most or may require them to support custody of the children. Complex divorce attorneys know that each party is trying to get the most from the agreement, so they develop the strongest case possible for their clients.
Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property
Some states use the concept of community property, where everything is equally divided between divorcing spouses. In South Carolina, the use of equitable division hinges on the definition of what is considered marital property and what is non-marital.
Marital property is any asset, whether real property (such as a home) or personal property that either or both spouses acquired during the marriage. Any land, housing unit, or business property is considered real property, and everything else is personal property. This includes boats, cars, furniture, household goods, jewelry, and similar items.
Understanding whether an item is a marital or nonmarital property can get confusing, so it is highly recommended that you hire a complex divorce attorney. They can help you understand how the law applies to specific situations you may have, including:
You Received the Asset Before You Were Married
If you can prove that you owned the asset prior to the marriage, the judge will typically rule that the item will remain with you as part of the divorce. Typically, spouses will keep the car they came into the marriage with if they still own it. The purchase of a new vehicle may be subject to a ruling by the Family Court judge, depending on how it was purchased and titled.
In the case of a business, however, your spouse may be able to claim they put in finances or “sweat equity” to support and grow the enterprise. They may argue this investment allows them to claim a percentage of the property in the divorce settlement.
You Inherited, Won, or Were Given the Asset in Your Name Only
Real and personal property that you inherited from a family member during the marriage that was left to you only can be claimed as non-marital property. If someone gave you a gift that was intended only for you, such as a birthday or other present, you could argue that it is strictly your possession.
However, if you received land that was titled in both your names, the property becomes marital. Gifts of stock, bonds, or other financial instruments may be eligible for division in the divorce unless you have solid proof that they should not be.
If you win a lottery, the money will usually be considered a marital asset unless you deposit it in a personal account that you opened before the wedding. You must also have never used the account for any joint funds or paid any jointly owned expenditures with the account. Again, determining the status of your winnings requires legal guidance to ensure it is either kept in your name or divided appropriately.
You Used Non-Marital Funds to Purchase the Asset
In some marriages, both partners enter the union with separate banking accounts that they continue to maintain separately. Many couples set up a joint account to pay bills, which automatically qualifies the account and its funds as marital assets. However, if you keep your money entirely separate and never commingle the money with that of your spouse, your attorney could argue that it is a separate asset.
Likewise, any purchase you made with that separate money could arguably be called non-marital. Again, it takes the knowledge and experience of a complex divorce lawyer who will research the account. They will investigate its history to prove its validity as separate and that the purchased item was never considered a shared asset.
You Earn Much More Money Than Your Spouse
Generally, all income is considered marital property. Even if the difference between spouses’ take-home pay is quite stark, the money is usually assumed to be for the benefit and welfare of everyone in the relationship, including children. Demonstrating that income is separate and should not be divided equitably with the other spouse is extremely difficult.
High net worth is one factor that makes some divorces complex. It is natural to want to protect your earnings. The high-asset divorce lawyers at Indigo Family Law know how to balance keeping your assets protected with providing for your children.
South Carolina Laws Make Divorce More Difficult
Living in South Carolina automatically makes getting a divorce a lengthy and complicated process. This may be one factor explaining the fact that the divorce rate in 2020 was 10.7%, the eighth lowest in the country. We are one of 12 states that do not recognize legal separation, so couples must follow specific requirements to obtain a divorce. Using a mediator can help when the division of assets is simpler or there are no children. However, many cases require the guidance of a trained high-asset divorce attorney.
Understanding the process of dissolving a marriage is easier if you are familiar with the various unique laws governing divorces that happen in Myrtle Beach, SC, and other cities within the state.
Grounds for Divorce
South Carolina only has five possible grounds for filing for divorce. Other states allow other reasons, giving spouses an easier exit from an undesirable or dangerous relationship. You can obtain a divorce for any of these reasons:
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse
- Physical cruelty
- One year of living apart with no reconciliations
With the first four causes, your case can technically be processed faster than most. Final decrees of divorce can be handed down by a judge 90 days after a couple settles their differences. However, considering that there will likely be a lot of evidence and negotiation to prove any of those situations, most of these cases will drag on for years.
Minimum Separation of One Year
One of the most reliable ways of achieving divorce is through living apart for at least one year in separate homes and with no reconciliation or cohabitating. This time is intended to allow partners to reconsider if they truly wish to end their marriage.
Determining Alimony and Child Support in Complex Divorce Cases
During the time before your divorce hearing before the judge, your attorney will examine the financial situation for you and your spouse to understand whether to ask for alimony. There are a number of factors that the court will consider to reach their decision. Your attorney will assemble their evidence to support your claims and take into account the following:
- Duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s mental, emotional, and physical condition
- Education level of each spouse
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- Anticipated earnings for each spouse
- Each partner’s employment history
- Marital assets
- Marital misconduct
- Age of each spouse
- Children and custody decisions
Let us suppose a woman marries a man who makes a great deal of money, and she devotes herself to caring for their home and children without working during the marriage. The effort of labor, family management, and childcare can be given value during the divorce case. If the woman must get a job after the divorce, she will have to deal with a diminished educational and career background that may hinder her ability to earn enough to support the lifestyle she previously enjoyed.
Similarly, child support must take into account the difference in paychecks between spouses and the possibility that the children will suffer drastic changes in their lives after the divorce. In cases where one parent retains custody, they often retain the primary home to minimize the impact on the children. If the home is expensive to maintain, both alimony and child support must be adjusted accordingly.
Custody and Time With Parents
Parents can be granted legal custody that allows them to be involved in decisions about education, medical treatment, and the like. Physical custody describes where the children spend their time and can be sole or joint between the parents. Legal custody is often joint but can be restricted to one parent if the court feels there is reason to deny the other parent.
Physical custody is often an area of the greatest dispute in complex divorces. Children may have a desire and need to spend certain amounts of time with their non-custodial parent, such as for vacation or participation in certain activities. Grandparents and other family members may push to have time granted for themselves.
As much as possible, your attorney will advise you to consider what is best for the children when deciding custody, but your lawyer can also help you write specific agreements about how visitation is managed. It can be easy to let things slide from what is legally agreed upon until it becomes problematic. An experienced attorney will give you the benefit of what they have seen work with previous clients to avoid any pitfalls.
How a South Carolina Complex Divorce Lawyer Can Help You
Facing a divorce is already stressful enough. The emotional, financial, and psychological concerns can be multiplied when there are significant amounts of property or money at stake. The toll becomes nearly unbearable with children involved. Trying to understand the legal jargon on top of everything else is a burden you do not need to face.
At Indigo Family Law, we know that this time is overwhelming for you. We listen to your story with compassion and objectivity to develop the best approach for you. At our office, we take the focus off the destruction of a partnership and direct you toward making the brightest future for yourself.
Your attorney will also protect you from further emotional distress by handling all aspects of the negotiations and legal proceedings on your behalf. You do not have to get bogged down because you do not understand the law. We ensure you have skilled guidance that puts your best interests first and reduces additional frustration.
Facing a Spouse Who Tries to Hide Money From You
In complex divorce cases, your spouse may try to hide assets or finances to keep more for themselves. Our team works with forensic accountants to uncover every property and account so that a fair and equitable division can be made. When a marriage ends, some partners are stunned to discover their spouses had entire secret lives. Our investigators can root out anything that needs to be brought to light for your case.
We will also interview witnesses and file legal motions to obtain any evidence demonstrating hidden assets. Our team focuses on making sure you and your children have the financial means they need for a successful future after the divorce.
What Is the Cost of a Complex Divorce Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC?
Each case will be different from any other. The costs of a case are based on how much work is required to discover all the financial and property records, how difficult the negotiations are with the opposing counsel, and how quickly the two spouses can come to an agreement. Some attorneys will offer a fixed rate for an uncontested divorce, but complex divorce cases are usually charged on an hourly fee basis.
You will pay a retainer upfront to cover the initial efforts required to begin your case. Your attorney may ask for additional payments as the process goes on. It can seem like a lot of money for something you might think you can do by yourself. However, it is important to remember that your lawyer is working to protect your interests for years to come. Taking a chance by going it alone means you will likely make mistakes and leave a lot of money behind if your spouse is trying to hide assets.
Using a qualified complex divorce attorney also means you will not fall prey to unfair settlement agreements your spouse may offer. We also know how to use the law to your advantage and ensure your paperwork is filed correctly and on time with the courts. We are well-acquainted with the South Carolina Family Court system and maintain professional courtesy relationships with other divorce firms to ensure the best outcome for your case.
Contact a Myrtle Beach Complex Divorce Lawyer Today
If you have been served with divorce papers or are considering leaving your spouse, you need top-notch legal representation. You will sleep better at night when you hire a Myrtle Beach complex divorce lawyer to effectively assess the properties, monetary accounts, and custody arrangements. We fight aggressively to ensure you do not lose what you are owed from the marriage.
No matter where you are in considering a divorce, it is never too early to speak with the team at Indigo Family Law. Even if your marital relationship is friendly and you both agree that divorce is the best choice, we know that people can change their minds when it comes to deciding how things are divided. We have seen a number of seemingly simple cases transform into long battles when one partner unexpectedly refused to compromise.
We offer professional and accredited lawyers with an extensive background in handling all aspects of divorce, including property division and child custody considerations. We stand ready to help you get through this difficult time in your life. When the challenges of family separation become too much, you can rely on our complex divorce attorneys to provide fair and compassionate service.
We are conveniently located in the Grand Strand area of Myrtle Beach, SC. Call us or use our contact form to schedule your initial consultation today.