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Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law

Pozsik & Carpenter Family Law

Pozsik and Carpenter has built their practice and reputation on providing representation to individuals during the most personal, emotional, and stressful times of their lives.  Pozsik and Carpenter takes pride in helping individuals through compassionate yet aggressive representation during divorce, separation, custody, visitation, child support and other “battles” fought in family court. 

Divorce

To begin the divorce process in South Carolina, one spouse must file a complaint for divorce in the county where your spouse lives or where you live if your spouse does not reside in South Carolina.  If you both still live in the state, you may also file where you last lived together.

SC residency requirements apply: you or your spouse must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least one year. If both of you live in South Carolina, you must both have lived here for at least three months.

 

In South Carolina, you can file for divorce based on five grounds.  They include either a single no-fault ground that only applies if you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for one year or four fault grounds:

  • Adultery

  • Physical cruelty

  • Desertion for more than one year

  • Habitual drunkenness or habitual use of drugs

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with a Divorce, Pozsik and Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help. Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

 

Separation

If you and/or your spouse is seeking a legal separation, South Carolina actually refers to that as an action for “separate maintenance and support”, similar rules to divorce apply, however you remain married. Although you remain married, the following become legally defined:

  • Child Custody

  • Child Support

  • Visitation

  • Property Division—including real estate, cars, furnishings, savings accounts, retirement accounts and other assets

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with your separation, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help.  Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

Child Custody

Before parents can address the issues of child custody and visitation of their minor children, there must be a filed underlying action in the South Carolina Family Law Court.  In South Carolina, judges will make child custody decisions based solely on the child’s best interests.  They consider several factors:

  • Which parent is the primary caregiver of the children

  • Circumstances of the parents

  • Nature of the case

  • The child’s welfare

In years gone by, the court use to say that the court would leave a minor children of “tender years” with the mother and the only way for the father to obtain such custody was by proof of the mother’s severe neglect or her unfitness (on the basis of morals or health) to care for the children.  That is no longer the case these days, the Court will often award Father’s with custody if they can demonstrate that they are the fit and proper parent to have custody.

 

Keep in mind that just because it may be proven that the mother or father is an unfit spouse for some reason, that reason alone does not necessarily prove that he or she is an unfit parent. Therefore, sexual indiscretions may not disqualify that person as a parent. This is a frequent misconception of clients.

 

Older children may be able to express their preferences for custody based on their age, experience, maturity, and judgment. Once the judge signs the final custody order and it is filed with the court clerk, the order is binding, however if a substantial change in the circumstances occurs a parent can seek modification.

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with child custody issues, Pozsik and Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help you. Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

Child Support

South Carolina law requires parents to share joint responsibility for providing financially for one’s child or children.  That being said, the court typically orders the non-custodial parent to contribute to the support of minor child or children by financially assisting the parent with primary physical custody. The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines dictate the amount of support for the non-custodial parent to pay.

 

The guidelines consider the following factors:

  • Each parent’s gross monthly income

  • Number of children to be supported

  • Day care and health insurance costs

  • And the number of overnights that the non-custodial parent conducts with child

 

In addition, extenuating factors may also apply including:

  • Educational expenses

  • Equitable property division

  • Debt

  • More than six children

  • Unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses for child or either parent

  • Mandatory retirement deductions for either parent

  • Obligated support for other dependents

  • Substantial disparity of income

  • Alimony

  • Spousal agreement

The court will make a decision based on these factors, thus necessitating the importance of you being adequately represented by an attorney with the experience and knowledge to gather and present this evidence to the court.

 

Either party retains the right to request or seek a subsequent modification of the child support amount and/or method of payment based upon a substantial or material change of circumstances affecting either party.

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with a child support matter, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help.  Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

Visitation

For many parents, the most upsetting thing in the world is not being able to see your child or children every day. The thought of your child or children spending the majority of their time with the other parent and not with you can be a painful and emotional experience.   You may feel as though you have lost control and don’t know where to turn.  But setting up a proper child visitation schedule and gaining visitation rights to see your child or children on a regular basis can help ease the pain.   Don’t let fear control how you live your life – speak with an Attorney that knows how to handle and deal with visitation matters.

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with a visitation matter, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help.  Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

Modification of an Existing Agreement

Issues involving children may be modified (or changed) up until a child is emancipated.  Either parent may petition the Court to modify an existing agreement in regards to issues that deal with a child or children.  Issues such as Custody, visitation, and child support.  In order to modify an existing agreement, the parent wishing to modify the agreement must show a substantial or material change in the circumstances. 

 

The most common modification to an existing agreement is the modification of child support.  Once a court has ordered one parent to pay the other parent child support, the parent wishing to modify the support order must show a change in either the child’s needs or the supporting or supported parent’s financial ability.  In other words, a substantial or material change of circumstances.

 

Some examples of changes that might justify modification would be one parent getting a much higher paying job, or both parents changing the parenting arrangement to either start or discontinue shared parenting.  In South Carolina, the obligation to pay child support may end when a child turns 18 or when he or she graduates from high school or becomes emancipated, whichever happens later.

 

If you need an Attorney to help you modify an existing agreement dealing with Custody, visitation, and or child support, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help.  Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

 

Violations

A divorce agreement in South Carolina is not something that should be taken lightly.  Once an agreement of the parties have been approved by the Family Court, that Agreement becomes an Order of the Court enforceable by the contempt powers of the Court.  If either party is found to have willfully violated a Court Order that party may be held in contempt.  The contempt powers of the Court consist of a fine of up to $1,500, a public work sentence of more than 300 hours, a sentence in a correctional facility for one year, or any combination of the three.

 

 In custody matters, many violations can arise from a divorce order when it comes to the child support and custody portions of the agreement. From drop-off sites and parenting time schedules and payment of child support, if a former spouse or co-parent willfully refuses to stick to what they are legally bound to, problems may arise, and that person may be held in contempt.

 

One of the more common violations of a Family Court Order is one parent’s failure to pay child support in a timely manner.     

 

If you need an Attorney to help you address one parties failure to comply with a Family Court Order, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help. Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

Adoption 
Adoption is a beautiful and fulfilling gift.  However, there are legal formalities that must be adhered to in order to properly conclude an adoption in South Carolina.  The adoptive parent must understand that they are taking on the permanent rights and legal responsibilities of a natural parent.  If you are seeking to extinguish the parental rights of a mother or father who is no longer active in the life of the child or children, there are appropriate steps that must be taken to avoid future complications. 

 

Generally speaking there are 2 kinds of adoptions; “in family adoptions”, such as an adoption by a step parent, Aunt, Uncle, or Grandparent.  Or an adoption through an agency.

 

Around our law office we like to call adoption law cases, “Happy Law”. Most situations revolve around placing a child or children in an environment that gives them the best opportunity for success and fulfillment in life!

 

If you need an Attorney to help you navigate the adoption process Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help. Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

 

DSS Cases

There are few things more heartbreaking than having your child or children taken from you, especially if you feel you’ve been wrongly accused of child abuse or neglect. If your child or children have been removed from your custody, the best thing to do is contact a family law attorney experienced with DSS cases as soon as possible to represent you.

 

Here’s what you need to know about DSS cases: Usually within 72 hours of the child’s removal, there will be a hearing on that child’s behalf in family court. DSS will have representation, a guardian ad litem will be appointed by the court, and a DSS case worker will be assigned to your case.  It is imperative that you have proper representation as well.

 

Should the court decide to remove the child or children from your care for a set period of time, a family law attorney can help you navigate the process to ensure that your child or children are returned to your care and custody as soon as possible.  Living arrangements for your child or children can be made on your terms and a plan to regain child custody, or an appeal of the courts’ decision can be discussed.

 

If you need an Attorney to help you with a pending DSS case against you or a loved one, Pozsik & Carpenter Attorneys at Law is here to help. Press “Ask Us A Question” to have an attorney evaluate your question, or to schedule a consultation with Pozsik and Carpenter.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pozsik & Carpenter Family Law

1314 Lincoln Street

Suite 305

Columbia, SC 29210​

Phone: (803) 764-1105