If you’re contemplating getting a divorce, you should be aware of how the South Carolina courts divide the property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage.
As if your decision to get a divorce wasn’t emotional enough, now you have to figure out how to equitably divide your property. The Greenville divorce attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, L.L.C. have come up with some tips to make the process of dividing your marital assets easier.
What Are the Basics of Property Division in South Carolina?
In a divorce, you and your spouse must divide your marital property and your debt before a South Carolina judge will grant your request for a divorce.
You have two choices:
- Work it out between you and your spouse to determine what property each of you will take away from your marriage
- Have a South Carolina court judge decide for you.
What is Equitable Division?
South Carolina is an equitable division state. This means that if the court makes the decision on who gets what, they will divide the marital property equitably between you and your spouse. Keep in mind, fairly or equitably doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split.
The South Carolina court will put your property into one of two categories: marital and non-marital. If you have non-marital property, you will have to prove sole ownership of that property with such things as receipts, witnesses, or any other evidence you have.
Why is it Important to Reach A Property Agreement?
The truth is: the South Carolina courts will not understand your family’s dynamics as well as you do. If you and your spouse keep control of how your assets will be split, and the debts in your divorce handled, it’s better than having the South Carolina courts decide for you.
To attempt to come to some type of property agreement, there are a few steps you can take. They include:
Make a List of Assets
This is one of the easiest ways to start dividing your property. Each of you should create a list of assets and designate which spouse should receive each item in your divorce. When you have both finished with your lists, you can compare them and negotiate any differences.
You must identify all assets acquired during your marriage, including:
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Recreational vehicles
- Anything else that has value.
If you find out later that your spouse failed to disclose all assets, you can request a South Carolina court to reopen your case for re-evaluation.
Put a Value on Your Property
Determine what your property is worth. Usually, the court will accept fair market value for each item. This is what you could sell it for today, not what you paid for it.
If you can’t come to an agreement on any item as to value, you may have to hire an independent appraiser to determine value.
Don’t Forget About Your Debts
Any debts you and your spouse incurred while married are also in the property division process. If you acquired joint debt like a mortgage, car payment, or other debt, that would more than likely have to be split between the two of you.
Write a Settlement Agreement
If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your property and debt division, you can write up a property settlement agreement to give to the South Carolina judge.
Your agreement should list every item, its owner, and the value. This goes for your debt as well. In most cases, the judge will honor your agreement.
If You Can’t Agree on a Specific Asset
If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on a specific asset or debt division, you can sell the asset and divide the profits. In the alternative, you can ask the judge to decide for you.
If you are going through a divorce and have concerns that you may not be treated fairly by your spouse, you should seek the advice of a knowledgeable South Carolina divorce attorney. The divorce lawyers at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, L.L.C. in Greenville, South Carolina, have the experience and skill to advise you of your rights and ensure that your rights are protected.