Property Division Attorneys serving Spartanburg & Greenville, SC
South Carolina is an equitable division state. This means that all marital property, including assets and debts, are to be divided in a manner that a court deems to be fair to both parties. This does not always result in an equal division of the property.
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., we have extensive experience with handling complex property division issues in a divorce. We can help you to identify and evaluate all marital property in your case and seek a proper division through either a property agreement with your spouse or through a court order.
If you need assistance with property division issues in your divorce in Spartanburg, Greenville or elsewhere in South Carolina, contact us today. We can provide a confidential consultation.
How Marital Property is Divided in South Carolina
In South Carolina, you and your spouse can decide how to divide your marital property by agreement. If you cannot agree, a Family Court judge will divide your property for you.
Whether the property is divided by agreement or following a contested hearing before a judge, you can expect your case to go through the following steps:
• Identification and classification – Only “marital property” can be divided in a divorce. This generally means any property that was acquired by either spouse after the date of marriage until the date of separation. It does not include property that a spouse brought into the marriage or received from a third party as a gift or inheritance.
Non-marital property can be converted into marital property, or “transmuted,” if the parties themselves regarded the property as common property during the marriage. For example, if a husband owned a home prior to marriage, and both spouses contributed to improvements during the marriage, it could be considered marital property.
An attorney’s role will be to work closely with you to track down all property in your case and to classify it as non-marital or marital.
- Valuation – The next step will be to determine the value of all marital property, including real estate, vehicles, furniture, boats, timeshares, business(es), stocks, pension plans, other accounts, retirement accounts (IRAs) and personal property. Appraisers and financial analysts may assist in this process.
- Distribution – The final stage is to distribute the property equitably. Because a court will look at the following factors in distributing marital property, the same factors should be considered when you are structuring a property agreement. They include but are not limited to:
- Duration of the marriage and age of the parties
- Marital misconduct or fault of either spouse
- Contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in value of the marital property
- Income and earning potential of each spouse
- Physical and mental health of each spouse
- Need of each spouse or either spouse for additional training or education
- Non-marital property of each spouse
- Existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse
- Whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded
- Whether the spouse has custody of minor children who may live in the marital home
- Tax consequences
- Existence and extent of any support obligations
- Liens on the marital property (which must also be equitably apportioned).
In most cases, it is advisable to seek a court order to prevent the transfer, depletion or hiding of assets by your spouse.
Keep in mind: When transferring retirement plans in a property agreement or court order, it generally will be necessary to obtain a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. This order gives a spouse the right to receive all or a percentage of the other spouse’s retirement benefits pursuant to the plan administrator’s requirements.
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Property Division Attorneys
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., we will seek to reach a timely and fair division of your marital assets and debts through a property agreement. However, if no agreement can be reached, we will be well prepared to stand up for you in a Family Court hearing.
Our goal will be to make sure that your property rights are fully protected and that you are able to move on to the next phase of your life with the peace and security you deserve.
Contact us today to learn more about the assistance our family law attorneys can provide.
Sources / More information
- Title 20, Domestic Relations (Chapter 3, Divorce), South Carolina Legislature