The Truth About Five Common Charleston Divorce Myths

Kenneth E. Peck, Charleston divorce and family lawyer

Your friends have good intentions. They have told you what they think are well-established principles of South Carolina divorce law. They know these things are “true” because they heard them from a friend or on TV.

Sadly, your well-intentioned friends may be wrong. They may simply be repeating myths about South Carolina divorce law. Some Charleston divorce myths have been repeated so many times that many people think the divorce myths are true.

Below you will learn the differences between five Charleston divorce myths and the facts in a Charleston divorce.

Charleston, SC Divorce Myth No. 1:

I can date before my divorce becomes final.

FACT: If you date someone while you are still married – even if you are separated, it can have serious consequences in your Charleston divorce, including:

  • The judge could find that you have committed adultery. Since you are still married, dating another person may be deemed to be adultery.
  • You could lose alimony that you were expecting to get after you are divorced. South Carolina divorce law prohibits a divorce judge from awarding alimony to a person, who has committed adultery.
  • You may be ordered to pay alimony. Marital misconduct is one of the factors that your divorce judge will have to consider in deciding whether to require you to pay alimony to your soon to be former spouse.
  • You may receive a smaller percentage of the marital property. The divorce judge is required to consider marital fault (including adultery) in dividing marital property.
  • You may have to pay more for attorney’s fees and it may take longer to complete your divorce because your adultery may make the process more complicated.
  • Adultery could cause you to lose custody of your children or reduce your child visitation time.

Charleston, SC Divorce Myth No. 2:

I can stop paying child support because my former spouse won’t let me see my children.

FACT: You can stop paying child support for any reason. However, if you stop paying child support in Charleston, bad things are likely to happen. Your divorce judge could find you to be in contempt of court, require you to pay all of the unpaid child support with interest, order you to pay a fine, require you to pay your former spouse’s attorney’s fees, and/or throw you in jail for not paying the child support. Instead of stopping child support payments, you should consult with a Charleston child custody and divorce lawyer to learn what options you have to enforce the child custody order.

Charleston, SC Divorce Myth No. 3:

The mother automatically gets custody of the children in a Charleston divorce.

Divorce Attorney At The Peck Law Firm In Charleston, SC - The Peck Law Firm

FACT: This is a false statement. South Carolina divorce law does not prefer mothers in determining child custody cases, including those child custody cases involving an infant. Instead of deciding child custody on the basis of your gender, your Charleston divorce judge will make the child custody decision based on the “best interests” of your child. Your divorce judge must follow the South Carolina child custody law in making that decision. Major factors in the South Carolina child custody statute include:  your fitness as a parent, immoral conduct, domestic violence, financial resources, home environment, parenting skills, education, and opinions of other people.

Charleston, SC Divorce Myth No. 4:

I will automatically get half of everything in a Charleston divorce.

FACT: You will not automatically get 50% of the assets from your marriage. You may get more or less than 50%. Your divorce judge is required by South Carolina divorce law to make an “equitable distribution” of your marital property. This means you will receive what the judge decides is “fair” in your circumstances. Alternatively, a skilled Charleston divorce attorney may be able to get a better divorce settlement for you.

In preparing for court, your Charleston divorce lawyer and you must study closely the subtle differences between what South Carolina divorce law characterizes as: (a) “marital property”; and (b) your individual or “separate property.” Your divorce judge can only divide what is marital property. To the extent to which various assets are determined to be marital or separate property, the division of marital property could be radically shifted in your favor or against you.

Your Charleston divorce judge will decide how to divide the marital property after considering a long list of statutory factors that include adultery, length of the marriage, the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the asset (including the contributions of the wife as a homemaker), health of the parties, and other considerations. Your divorce judge will probably try to divide the marital assets evenly; however, judges occasionally give one spouse 60% or more of the marital property.

Charleston, SC Divorce Myth No. 5:

I don’t need a Charleston divorce lawyer to get divorced.

FACT: This statement is true and false. You have the right under South Carolina divorce law to represent yourself in your divorce case. However, I would not recommend it. You have too much at stake to make a mistake at this critical stage of your life. Instead of trying to do it yourself, you should hire an experienced Charleston divorce attorney. You won’t get a “do over” with your divorce or legal separation.


As an experienced divorce and child custody attorney in Charleston, SC, I can answer your Charleston divorce and legal separation questions. To speak directly with me, please call me now at 843-800-2928.

Alternatively, please use the contact form to ask me any questions that you may have regarding your Charleston divorce or legal separation case. I will be quick to respond.  You can be sure that I will keep strictly confidential anything that you write to me.

Working together, we will protect your rights and build a better future for you in Awendaw, Charleston, Daniel Island, Goose Creek, Isle of Palms, James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, Summerville, or West Ashley.

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