Divorce and Family Law

Be Prepared: Divorce is Complicated!

Many people have never had a meaningful interaction with the Court system before a divorce.  Usually this is a stressful time, and depending on what they’ve heard from the media, friends, family and rumors, expectations can be unrealistic.

Divorce cases are some of the most complicated cases in the judicial system. Attorneys who handle divorces often restrict their practices almost exclusively to family law because there are so many potential pitfalls.  Virtually every area of a client’s future life can be impacted by their Decree of Divorce.

In contrast to lawsuits involving car accidents, employment claims, or breaches of contract, which often center on one or two financial issues, Family Law cases involve every aspect of a client’s financial and emotional life, especially when there are children involved.  Whether the process is “successful” or “messy” depends a good deal on what happens before separation begins.

My Point?  Do your research.  You wouldn’t buy a home, plan a vacation, or take a job with out getting a realistic idea of the costs, options, and reliable resources.  Know your priorities and ensure that the information you are getting is thorough and unbiased. Family Law Attorneys need to know the law, but to ensure your Divorce Decree is of lasting value, Family Law Lawyers should also educate their clients regarding legal processes, financial impacts, and resources for coping with the emotional impacts of the Divorce process.  At this point in history, resources are available to make complicated divorces smoother, fairer and healthier than in even the recent past.

Start by Considering:

Children, Parenting, and Planning for the future –  Agreements regarding custody, parenting plans, educational expenses, extra curricular activities, healthcare costs, presents, etc. must be very specific and yet flexible enough to serve the family at least until the children are 18 years old and usually well beyond.  Many of our Family Law clients are shocked by the number of situations they must consider and plan for in order to end a marriage responsibly.

Child support is often not as simple as it may first appear. Some parenting arrangements are not addressed by the Child Support Guidelines.  Questions around how child support is paid (through the court or directly to the custodial parent) and under what circumstances it can be reconsidered, should be addressed in your agreement. A good Family Law attorney will utilize modern software applications, such as Settlyd.com, to assist in resolving unique child support issues.

Property Division –  Marital property ranges from the living room sofa to retirement accounts, annuities and businesses; all of which need to be valued separately and then equitably divided.  All property acquired during the marriage will be presumed marital, and property acquired before the marriage, or by gift or inheritance during the marriage is non marital. Again, a sophisticated Family Law Lawyer will utilize state of the art software such as Settlyd to accurately and precisely divide all assets and debts.

Alimony can also be an issue and clients are often surprised by the rules. South Carolina does not provide a mathematical formula to calculate alimony, but relies upon 13 (non-quantifiable) factors set forth in the Alimony statute.

In South Carolina, Divorce and Family Law attorneys and their clients now have available www.Settlyd.com to manage the data for all financial aspects of family law cases, including preparing a Financial Declaration, calculating Child Support and alimony and providing clear options for asset division.  It is a tool that helps the parties and their Family Law Attorneys to consider all factors and fashions options based on their unique situation.  Make sure your Divorce Attorney takes full advantage of modern technology so that they utilize your financial resources effectively and efficiently.

The emotional aspects of divorce are getting more attention these days too.   Attorneys are not counselors but clients sometimes are paying attorneys to listen to their emotional problems. Unaddressed emotional issues can confuse the legal issues, delay settlement, and make a divorce process more difficult than it needs to be.  Collaborative Law and Mediation are great options for many people. Both make good use of resources and attend to the larger picture by emphasizing realistic and collaborative negotiations. Using a process that fits your situation ensures that you pay professionals for what they are trained to do, and usually leads to more lasting results.

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