Many people expect divorce to be an adversarial process with numerous trips to court to battle out disputes. In reality, most parties are able to work out at least some of the key divorce issues by agreement. The South Carolina divorce statutes are on your side in this respect. They actually encourage compromise, and a court is likely to sign off on a marital settlement agreement unless it is outrageously unfair or contrary to law.
The benefits of agreement in divorce are significant, and reduced legal costs are just a start. Another advantage is certainty in the outcome, since you are not relying on the judge to make a determination. Plus, parties have more control over the divorce process instead of being bound by rigid statutes. A Charleston divorce attorney can advise you in settlement discussions and help you make informed decisions. Here are some of the areas where you might consider negotiating an agreement:
1. Property Division:
The laws in South Carolina state that all marital assets and debts are subject to equitable distribution in divorce. As such, the process of property division involves two steps: Classifying property and then dividing up marital assets according to what the judge finds is fair. Parties to a divorce case can handle both of these steps by agreement, and fairness should also be the focus in settlement discussions. If there are specific items that are still in dispute, you can take the case to court.
2. Spousal Support:
A court may award alimony when it is necessary to ensure the financial security of a lower earning spouse. There is no established formula, so the laws allow a judge to use discretion in determining whether it is appropriate and other details. With a marital settlement agreement, the parties can set the type, duration, and how payments are made.
3. Child Custody and Visitation:
When a divorce involves minor children, parents must address how to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time. These issues cover important decision making on raising the child, such as education, medical care, the residential arrangement, and other details. Parents can negotiate a parenting plan that encompasses custody and visitation, but a court will review it carefully before approving. The judge must ensure that the arrangement suits the child’s best interests.
4. Child Support:
It is also possible to discuss an agreement on child support, but the laws are stricter because the point is to make sure the child has sufficient financial resources. The baseline for negotiations is the South Carolina child support guidelines, and parents can always agree on a higher amount. They can also include specifics on modifying child support for future circumstances.
Our South Carolina Divorce Lawyers Will Advise You on Agreements
There are benefits to working out divorce issues by agreement, and our team at the Peck Law Firm is prepared to help you leverage them. For more information, please contact us to schedule a free phone or Zoom consultation. Individuals in Charleston County can call 843.631.7117 or visit our website to speak to an experienced divorce attorney.