What We Do

Most couples who separate must address the division of their marital assets and debts. There may be real estate, retirement and pension funds, stock options, and businesses to value and divide. The Family Court will consider a number of factors when deciding how to divide marital property. These may include:

  • duration of the marriage; and,
  • ages of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce; and,
  • any marital misconduct; and,
  • value of marital property; and,
  • income and earning potential of each spouse; and,
  • physical and emotional health of each spouse; and,
  • needs of each spouse for additional training; and,
  • non-marital property of each spouse; and,
  • value of vested retirement benefits; and,
  • whether alimony has been awarded; and,
  • desirability of awarding a family home to the custodial spouse; and,
  • tax consequences of equitable distribution; and,
  • existence of support obligations from a prior marriage; and,
  • whether there are liens or other encumbrances upon marital property; and,
  • child custody arrangements and obligations.
Property_Division_Bleeker Law Firm
In South Carolina, equitable distribution is not necessarily an equal (50:50) distribution. How you present your case to the court matters.  The Charleston lawyers of The Bleecker Law Firm are skilled at advising clients how to best preserve and distribute marital property.

The Law

South Carolina Family Courts have jurisdiction to equitably divide marital estates. Marital estates consist of property acquired during the marriage except that which may have been acquired by one spouse through inheritance, bequest, gift, or devise.  While the Family Court does not have the jurisdiction to divide “non-marital property”, if a party commingles his/her non-marital property with marital assets, the non-marital property can be transmuted into marital assets which are subject to equitable distribution. Marital property is that which has been accumulated from the date of the marriage to the date the lawsuit is filed.

South Carolina is an “equitable distribution” rather than a “community property” state. There is no bright line rule in South Carolina about how to divide marital assets.  Family Court judges consider a variety of factors when determining how best to equitably divide a couple’s assets and debts.  Our state law sets out the following factors to be considered:

  • length of the marriage and the parties’ ages at the time of the marriage and at the time of the award; and,
  • marital misconduct or fault of either party;
  • value of the property and the contributions of the spouses in obtaining the property; and,
  • income and earning potential of each spouse; and,
  • physical and emotional health of each party; and,
  • needs of each spouse and whether or not a spouse may need further training to reach their earning potential; and,
  • non-marital property of each spouse; and,
  • existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse; and,
  • whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded; and,
  • the desirability of one or the other retaining the marital home; and,
  • tax consequences to each party; and,
  • the existence of an obligation to pay support to a former spouse; and,
  • liens associated with property to be distributed; and,
  • child custody arrangements; and,
  • any other factors that a Family Court Judge may consider relevant provided that these are detailed in the Court’s order.

FAQs

The family court has jurisdiction to equitably divide property that was obtained by the parties during the marriage. This means property that was obtained from the date of the marriage until the date that the Complaint is filed in the family court. Not all property may be marital. For example, property that was given to or inherited by one spouse from a third party may be non-marital if it has not been commingled with other marital property. South Carolina’s laws on property division are complex. You should consult with the experienced family court attorneys at the Bleecker Law Firm regarding your specific needs.
The question is whether or not a non-marital inherited asset has been “transmuted” into marital property. There are certain factors that may have contributed to its transmutation and an experienced attorney will want to talk with you about how long you and your husband have lived in the home, whether or not you put his name on the title, and whether or not he has he made financial contributions to paying the home’s expenses or making improvements.