Any action within the area of family has the potential to be one of the most traumatic events in a person’s life. This may even be the first time you have ever had to deal with the court or legal system. The attorney you choose to guide and assist you through this process is an important decision. Here are some tips to keep in mind that can help make this decision process a bit easier for you:
Get Referrals from Friends and Family
Schedule Consultations with at Least Two Attorneys
Come Prepared to Your Consultation: It may not be possible to gather every document or piece of information pertaining to your case, but try to organize your thoughts, concerns, issues, and your expectations for your case into easy to read notes.
Outside proof is normally necessary in addition to the testimony of the suing party. For instance, to show physical abuse, you might want to obtain a doctor's statement that he tended to your bruises as a result of a beating. It might be enough to bring forward witnesses who heard your screams and can testify if this coincides with the times and dates of the beatings. To prove adultery, photos of the spouse and lover holding hands or embracing or entering an apartment or motel are corroborative. To prove drunkenness, codeine bottles or canceled checks to liquor stores or tapes of drunken conversations or photos of empty liquor bottles all lined up are corroborative.
Sometimes the judge does not require corroborative evidence if he is thoroughly convinced there is no collusion, that is, that the parties conspired to fake grounds for divorce.
If you cannot afford to hire a private detective, you must be your own detective and be on the lookout to acquire the proof you and your attorney need. (Be aware your spouse's attorney probably said the same thing.) Upon request, I will recommend a detective agency, but you must deal directly with them.
I strongly recommend my clients do not date during the pendency of any divorce action. Even innocent dating can unduly give evidence to the other side. A trial judge might have a "where there's smoke, there's fire" attitude and add unnecessary complications to the case.
You can go to the court clerk’s office in the court that ordered child support and request the clerk issue a garnishment against the supporting parent’s wages. To do this, you need to know your ex’s place of employment, address, and Social Security number. If your ex is at least one month behind, the court sends a garnishment to the employer and the support will be taken out of his or her paycheck. You could also go after your ex’s property, but this is a longer process and might not be as satisfying, since cars and homes are often leased and mortgaged. Another option is to file for contempt and get an order to show cause why the payments are not being made. This puts your ex back in court. A skilled family law attorney can review the options with you and guide you to the best solution for your needs.
The purpose of visitation rights is for children of a divorced couple to understand they have two parents who are entitled to love their children and be loved in return. If the children come back from a weekend with their non-custodial parent and are upset or tell you they do not want to go anymore, that is not reason to deny visitation unless their health and welfare are endangered by the visitation. If you are having a disagreement with your ex or harbor ill feelings, that is not reason to deny visitation. Be aware that if you deny visitation, your spouse could file a petition for modification or contempt.
After your divorce, you might find it necessary or desirable to modify one or more of the stipulations in your divorce decree, property settlement, or custody and support arrangements. You must follow proper procedure if you want that modification or set of modifications to be valid and must show a change in circumstance.
The process of separation and/or divorce in South Carolina requires the division of property and debts acquired/incurred during the marriage, including the financial assets and liability of both parties. Before you decide to leave your relationship, below is a list of financial information you want to gather and keep in a safe place: