Three Reasons for No-Fault Divorce

Three Reasons for No-Fault Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process to go through. One thing that makes it even more difficult is figuring out what type of divorce you need to file for. You have two options, fault or no-fault. You might be wondering, what is the difference between the two? How do I know which one applies to me? The distinctions are pretty simple. Reasons for fault divorce include infidelity, desertion, drug or alcohol addiction, and many others. The distinguishing factor for a fault divorce is that one spouse is at fault for the divorce. But in a no-fault divorce, the feeling is basically mutual. There are three situations that are eligible for no-fault divorce.

1. Irreconcilable Differences

This is one of the most common reasons for no-fault divorce. Irreconcilable differences are sighted when the couple decides that they are no longer compatible with each other. There may be many reasons as to why that is. Most couples who file for divorce under this claim are people who can no longer agree on anything. They have tried basically everything to save their marriage, but nothing has worked. The only option left is divorce.

2. Incompatibility

Another reason for no-fault divorce is incompatibility. Incompatibility literally means that the couple no longer feels compatible with each other. The grounds for divorce are plain and simple. The couple does not feel like they are able to live together anymore. When this happens, the divorce proceedings are fairly easy. The courts are not interested in why the marriage is ending. All they care about is that it is over. No one is at fault here, so the proceedings can continue without much issue or court time.

3. Irretrievable Breakdown

The last reason for no-fault divorce is irretrievable breakdown. In this instance, both parties are admitting that the marriage is ending. There is no hope of it being salvaged. The couple has no options left other than to separate. Through this method, divorcing couples can quickly complete the process of divorce due to the short amount of court time that they will have to take part in.

Similarities

All three of these methods qualify as forms of no-fault divorce. So, what do they all have in common? All three are not concerned with who did what. That’s why they are referred to as reasons for no-fault divorce. There is no proof of any form of wrongdoing like what would be found in a fault divorce. Neither spouse cheated on the other or abused the other. There was no history of a harmful addiction or any mental illness. Instead, both spouses have mutually agreed, for whatever reason, that it is time to end this chapter in their lives and go their separate ways.

While no divorce is ever a fantastic thing, they are sometimes unavoidable. Choosing to separate through a no-fault divorce can make the entire process a bit easier because the reasons for separating are mutual. There is less of a chance of a major fight in court. If you or someone you know is considering a no-fault divorce, but might not know how to start, feel free to contact Christine Howard. Christine and her team of attorneys frequently deal with these cases and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to get in touch, call (864) 282-8575 or email at lnorris@christinehoward.com.

Dating During Separation

Dating During Separation

Divorce is a difficult process to go through. The divorcing couple is having a realization that their lives as they knew them are over. Not only are the upcoming legal aspects going to be frustrating, but the each spouse is also suddenly single again. Singleness can be hard to deal with, especially if a person has been with someone for a long time. But sudden singleness should not propel a person into the dating sphere immediately after separation. Instead, recently separated people should take time to consider how dating so soon after splitting might impact their divorce.

Potential for Adultery

Starting to date right after a separation is filed could lead to some undesirable consequences. This is not to say that a person cannot date during separation, there are just a few things to keep in mind before doing so. Firstly, the entire divorce process could take a hit. By beginning to date during the separation period, a person could potentially be accused of adultery. This accusation can lead to a turn in the divorce. For instance, if the divorce was originally no-fault, then it be moved to a fault divorce. According to South Carolina law, adultery is defined as “marital misconduct.” So even if the person is not sleeping with the one they are dating, the argument could be made that infidelity is still happening.

Alimony and Division of Assets

Another impact that dating during separation could have on divorce is through alimony and division of assets. Any type of adultery during the separation period could result in an undesirable outcome regarding alimony payments. According to South Carolina law, spouses are unable to receive support from the other if there is an instance of adultery. Specifically, if it is done before the signing of the formal property agreement or a permanent order of property agreement. In this case, the offending party can be barred from receiving alimony payments.

Division of property and assets can also be negatively affected. By dating before finalizing the divorce, a person is risking potentially lessening their share of the estate. This is because courts (depending on the laws of the state) will sometimes look at how the “marital misconduct” affects the financial aspect of the relationship. They will also look at how the misconduct affects the overall marriage breakdown. If found guilty, the individual accused of being unfaithful can potentially loose more of their share of the property.

Child Custody

Dating during separation might also impact child custody and visitation. If the courts determine that the dating spouse has acted inappropriately, then they can limit the amount of time the parent gets to spend with the child. Custody can also be impacted if the dating parent exposes their children to the person they are dating.

Final Result

Dating before divorce, while it can be done, is never a good idea. There are too many risks involved that could lead to the dating party receiving less than originally planned in the divorce. It is better for all parties involved (husband, wife, children, etc.) for spouses to hold off entering the dating world until the divorce is finalized.

If you or someone you know is curious about dating during the divorce process, feel free to contact Christine Howard. Christine would be happy to answer any questions about the process that you may have. She can be reached by phone at (864) 282-8575 or by email at lnorris@christinehoward.com.

Phases of Divorce Mediation

Phases of Divorce Mediation

Divorce is always a difficult task to undergo. Both parties are realizing that the marriage is over and they are trying to come to grips with this new reality. Even when couples are as civil with each other as possible, the process is still hard. But when couples aren’t so civil, well…it’s not pretty. This is where divorce mediation can help. Having a third party (usually a divorce lawyer) enter the discussion and assist both parties in expressing their desires helps the entire process flow more smoothly. When experiencing this process, couples will experience several phases of divorce mediation.

Phase 1: Beginning Phase

In the beginning phase, the mediator will lay the groundwork for how the mediation will work. This includes gathering information from both spouses to gain a background about the entire situation from which he or she can work. The beginning phase will also determine how the rest of the process will go. This is mostly based on how well couples communicate. The mediator will evaluate communication between spouses and determine a method that will provide the best possible outcome. Through this process, everyone involved will be able to create a plan for the rest of the mediation.

Phase 2: Gathering Information Phase

The second of the phases of divorce mediation is the gathering information phase. In this phase, the mediator will gather information about both spouses. This is so that the mediator can be as informed as possible when dealing with a case. This phase is an essential part of the process because any information that the mediator gets can help to complete the process with little hassle. In order to obtain information, the mediator will ask couples to bring in various documents. These could be anything from tax returns to insurance statements. The mediator will need these documents to summarize the process and work out a settlement.

The mediator can also help couples to gather any information that they might not be able to get a hold of. For instance, if a couple is having a hard time finding a specific insurance policy, then the mediator can be look for it themselves. They will also go over the legal rules and actions of the divorce with the couple. These would include what various state laws say about division of assets, child custody, insurance claims, etc.

Phase 3: Framing Phase

In the framing phase, the mediator will work with couples to set goals. These goals will help each spouse realize what they want to gain from the divorce. Going into a divorce without a plan is never a good idea. But framing the divorce allows both parties to figure out what they want from the process. Some couples might come in already knowing exactly what they want, and that’s great. But for couples who are not sure, framing is a necessary step.

Framing deals with issues such as property and financial division, child custody, and alimony. All of these issues need to have the perspectives of both spouses. In most situations, the spouses’ perspectives will overlap with each other. Both parties will want their property to be divided fairly. Both parties will definitely want the best arrangement possible for their children. By working with the mediator to frame the process, they will have a better chance at achieving their desires.

Phase 4: Negotiation Phase

After the mediator has gained information, and worked with the parties to decide on the goals, they now have to negotiate a settlement. The mediator will assist the couple in covering all of their goals and will make sure that nothing is left out of the settlement.The couple will then work with the mediator to determine potential outcomes. Through discussing the possible outcomes, the couple is able to work with the mediator to decide which options will make both parties happy.

After discussing the outcomes, the process will shift to help the couple to narrow down their focuses and determine which option is best for everyone. This may sound easy, and sometimes it can be. But there could also be some challenges. It is important to remember that this step will require compromise on both sides. Problem-solving is a major aspect of this phase. Both spouses need to be willing to work with the mediator and solve any problems that might arise. Otherwise, the divorce can quickly dissolve into fits of anger, making the process more stressful for everyone.

Phase 5: Finishing Phase

The last of the phases of divorce mediation is the finishing phase. In the finishing phase, the settlement is completed and is sent to both spouses for their approval. The spouses will look over the agreement with their mediator and, if both are satisfied, will then sign off. If needed, the mediator can write up a memorandum that both spouses can sign before leaving their session. Memorandums are typically used if the issues in the case are considered simple. This document functions as an “agreement” until a formal settlement agreement can be drawn up. Most times the memorandum will be the base for how the formal agreement is built.

Divorce is always a difficult time. But with divorce mediation, the process does not have to be so difficult. If you or someone you know is looking for mediation, feel free to contact Christine Howard. Christine would love to talk with you and answer any questions you may have about the process. She can also act as or recommend a mediator to you for your divorce. To get in touch, contact Christine Howard by phone at (864) 282-8575 or email at lnorris@christinehoward.com.

Adapted from The Stages of Divorce Mediation by Emily Doskow, Attorney.

 

Reading a Separation Agreement: Why It Is Important To Do Before Signing

Reading a Separation Agreement: Why It Is Important To Do Before Signing

Separation agreements are a large part of the divorce process. As such, they should not be taken lightly. Because this document is basically preparing the end of your marriage, it is imperative that you take the time to read it. Why? Because separation agreements are permanent and difficult. This is why it is important to spend time reading a separation agreement before signing it. By not pouring over the agreement, you put yourself at risk of losing much more than just your marriage.

Separation Agreements are Permanent

This is perhaps the most important thing to realize when filing for a separation agreement. They are permanent. With this being the case, you should definitely take the time to read it. A separation agreement is basically in charge of your divorce. It dictates how your assets will be divided among you and your spouse; and once that is done, there is no going back. As such, you need to be aware of what it says. By thoroughly reading your separation agreement, you can be sure that you are not potentially being taken advantage of by your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer. For instance, you might come across some sections of the document that you are not completely comfortable with.

Many separation agreements will often have releases in them that act as a way to secure anything that has been negotiated. These releases can include anything from who gets the house to how custody of any children is split. The releases signify that both parties have agreed to the terms at hand. Without carefully reading the separation agreement, many people end their marriage and receive less than what they had hoped for.

Separation Agreements are Difficult

Separation agreements can also be difficult, both to draft and to read. This is why many people do not want to take the time to go through them. When working on creating a separation agreement it is important to make sure that you have a lawyer work on it with you. It can be hard to decide how to divide everything without using any outside help. This is how a lawyer can help. In addition to drafting the legal document, they can also help to mediate your divorce process. By doing this, you are saving yourself from stress on two different fronts. Also, when planning to draft a separation agreement, make sure that you take the time to research the laws of your state. Your lawyer will know them, but it never hurts to have the knowledge yourself.

Separation agreements are an essential resource for any couple who is planning to divorce. If you would like to read further about the importance of reading separation agreements, then click here to read an article about this subject from divorcemag.com. If you or someone you know has a question about the process, or are going through a divorce, feel free to contact Christine Howard. She would be glad to answer any questions that you might have or help you through any struggles you are having in this process. She can be reached at by phone at (864) 282-8575 or email at lnorris@christinehoward.com.

 

 

5 Things to Look For When Selecting a Divorce Attorney

5 Things to Look For When Selecting a Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a hard issue to experience. With both spouses trying to adjust to being suddenly single along with having to determine who gets what property, there is much stress in the air. Another area of potential hardship that is not often addressed is the search for a divorce attorney. This can be a battle within itself. There are so many different options when selecting the right one. Some are more aggressive than others, whereas others are more reserved. It can be hard for individuals to decide what is the option for them. Here are five things to look for when selecting a divorce attorney.

Strong Communication Skills

When looking for a divorce attorney, one of the most important traits to look for is their communication ability. This is the person who is going to be representing you in court. They are the ones who are going to look after your assets. As such, they need to be strong communicators. Not only do they need these skills for debating in the courtroom – if the divorce goes to court – but they are also an important asset to have when engaging in discussions between the spouses. In most cases, the divorce is settled out of court, which means that the attorneys are the ones who will moderate the discussions and fight for who gets what property.

It is in these situations that good communication skills are critical. The attorneys are the ones responsible for clearly articulating the desires of each spouse. If there is any misunderstanding or miscommunication, then everything from who retains the house to who gains custody is destroyed.

Many Years of Experience

A second trait to look for when selecting a divorce attorney is the amount of experience they possess. As previously stated, divorce attorneys are the ones who are going to be handling the entire process. Much of the entire process depends on how well the attorney does his or her job. If an experienced lawyer is selected for the task, a much better outcome for the client can be expected. Whereas, if an individual decides to hire a more inexperienced attorney, they should expect to be less than pleased with the results. Hiring an person with a large amount of experience is only logical. For instance, a person wanting to build a house would never hire first-time contractor. While building a house is not the same as getting a divorce, the principle is the same in both cases. Why trust an inexperienced lawyer with handling the breakdown of a marriage?

Compatible Personality

Thirdly, clients looking to hire a divorce attorney should try to find one with a personality suited to their needs. Divorce attorneys come in all types. Some are more aggressive and are looking to help their client take all they can get from their spouse. Others are more compassionate and are looking to help their client through this difficult time with as little stress as possible.

While both of these styles can prove to be effective, clients should not take that to mean that this feature does not matter when looking for an attorney. Finding an attorney that fits the style that is the most conducive to the client is key. If an individual is looking to find the most civil way to handle their divorce, it probably is not a good idea to select a cutthroat attorney whose main goal in the case is to utterly destroy the other spouse.

Invested In You

A fourth quality to look for is an attorney’s level of interest in their client. When they accept a case, their top priority becomes the client. It is their job to represent this person and help them through the divorce, so they need to take a vested interest in the affairs of their clients. How can a person expect to be represented well if their lawyer cares nothing about them? This is why it is vital to select someone who truly wants to work their hardest to produce the best outcome for their clients.

With attorneys like these, it is clear that earning a fee is not their prime concern. Instead, they care about fighting for their clients because of their clients. They know the type of effect that the entire process can produce and they truly do want the ones they are representing to have as stress free of a divorce as possible.

Cost Effectiveness

The last of the five things to look for when selecting a divorce attorney to consider is the cost. The process of gaining a divorce is already incredibly costly. There are fees for determining whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, fees for filing in court, etc. The last thing a person wants to do is add onto the cost by paying an outlandish amount of money in legal fees as well. Finding a cost-effective lawyer is an major part of picking an attorney that should be at the forefront of a person’s mind. But also remember that choosing cost-effective does not mean settling for poor quality.

There are many attorneys who are not the most expensive on the market. But they are still very capable at their jobs. Clients should never feel as though they have to shell out thousands of dollars to gain the best help. Instead, they should look for an experienced attorney within a price range they feel comfortable with.

Divorce is an incredibly hard issue to handle, which is why finding the right divorce attorney is a critical part of the process. If you or anyone you know is looking for a divorce attorney, but is not sure where to start, feel free to contact Christine Howard. We would love to talk to you about this process and answer any questions that you may have. If you would like to learn more about who we are and what we do, click here. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, feel free to reach out to us by phone at (864) 282-8575 or by email at lnorris@christinehoward.com.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested Divorce

The difficult decision to divorce has been made. And now you’re faced with another difficult prospect – how to obtain a divorce without losing your dignity. At Christine M. Howard, “divorce with dignity” is one of our core values. Still, we understand that divorce can bring out the worst in people, especially if it ends up with the couple going to court. One way to avoid the drama and keep your dignity intact is by choosing an uncontested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce, or “simple” divorce as it is also known, is one in which both spouses are able to come to a mutually acceptable agreement about their final divorce settlement and terminate their marriage without going to court. In an uncontested divorce, the judge does not decide the terms of the divorce – you and your spouse do.

What are the grounds for an uncontested divorce?

The State of South Carolina recognizes five grounds for divorce. Four of these – adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness or narcotics abuse, and physical cruelty – require proof of fault. The fifth ground one year’s separation – is the no-fault ground.

In order to file for an uncontested divorce, you must have lived separate from your spouse for at least one continuous year and must file for divorce under “no-fault” grounds.

What are the advantages of an uncontested divorce?

There are many advantages to an uncontested divorce, perhaps the most obvious being cost. At its simplest, an uncontested divorce can be completed by paying only the court filing fees. But even when attorneys are involved, the cost to you and your spouse can be greatly reduced if you are able to reach agreement without resorting to litigation.

Another major advantage of an uncontested divorce is reduced stress. When a divorce is contested, you are asking a court to help decide its outcome. A contested divorce can take the frustration, anger and resentment either your or your spouse feels to a whole new level. It can also take many months or years to resolve the contested issues in court. Staying out of the court reduces conflict, paves the way for a better post-divorce relationship, and allows for better co-parenting if children are involved.

Finally, an uncontested divorce is more dignified and more private than a contested one. Even though the agreements that you and your spouse come to are filed with the court and become public record, the disclosures you’ve made to one another do not need to be public.

Contact Christine M. Howard to find out if an uncontested divorce is the right option for you.