Going through a family court case in South Carolina can create an overwhelming amount of stress. Dealing with divorce and custody issues in the Charleston South Carolina area can be emotionally charged and the decisions you make often have a lifelong impact for you and your children. At Sarji Law Firm, my goal is to help my clients resolve these issues in the family courts of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties in the least acrimonious but fairest way possible and to help them through this difficult time.
If going to court to resolve your custody, divorce, and property division issues is necessary and in your best interests, I am also a seasoned trial attorney and know when it is time to get tough. I will fight for you from the beginning to the end in your family court case.
South Carolina recognizes several grounds for divorce.
- Desertion for one year
- Physical cruelty
- Habitual drunkenness (also caused by use of a narcotic)
- Living apart for one year without cohabitation ("no fault" divorce)
There are also residency requirements and procedural rules to follow in the specific county in which your case should be filed.
Custody & Visitation
I will help you craft a South Carolina custody and visitation arrangement that makes sense for you and your children, and I will help you present your unique needs to the court to support your position. We will work to facilitate the Guardian ad Litem's investigation in your case.
South Carolina believes that both parents are responsible for their children's financial support. Generally, the non-custodial parent pays support to the parent with whom the children physically live. Whichever parent I am representing, I gather all relevant financial information and present it to the court for a determination of the amount that should be paid. Child support may not be a cut and dried kind of issue. Sometimes a parent will intentionally depress his or her income in order to avoid paying child support. We will work to gather all relevant information to be able to show the court what a parent's actual income should be, and we can ask the court to impute income to a parent for purposes of calculating child support.
There is no legal separation in South Carolina. If you have been separated for one year without cohabitation, it is grounds for divorce and you are not required to state any fault on the part of the other party. While it is not required that you must file with the court to document the year of separation, often it is necessary that we file an action for separate support and maintenance, to put some rules in place for you and your spouse to live by during your first year of separation. These rules will give you a framework for who has possession of the marital residence and/or its contents; who has primary custody of the children; payment of spousal support; servicing of marital debt; and other important issues that must be dealt with even before your divorce can be finalized.
Although there is no specific South Carolina statute covering prenuptial agreements, courts will generally enforce them if they are:
- Fair, reasonable and not unconscionable
- Both parties honestly revealed all of their assets and liabilities to the other one before the agreement was signed.
- The agreement was signed freely without any coercion and not under duress.
Whether you need me to prepare an agreement for you, work to have your agreement enforced by the court, or are trying to prove a pre-nuptial is unenforceable, I can help. I stay current on any changes to the laws and always work in the best interest of my clients. I also draft post-nuptial agreements in South Carolina, if you are already married and wish to get this type of agreement in place with your spouse.
Contempt is the willful violation of a court order. When one party fails to comply with an order of the family court, the other party can file a Rule to Show Cause, asking the court to find the order-breaking party in contempt of court. If the court makes such a finding, it has the discretion to impose a penalty of 1) up to one year in jail; 2) a fine of up to $1,500; 3) 300 hours of community service; or a combination of all three. You may also be awarded other relief such as make-up time with your children, and your attorneys' fees and costs.
Grandparents do not have absolute right to visit their grandchildren, but if certain criteria are met, a court may order they be allowed to visit. In some circumstances, grandparents may have the right to obtain custody of their grandchildren.
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) & Adoptions
In certain circumstances, it is appropriate to terminate a parent's parental rights. In South Carolina, these circumstances include the parent's willful failure to support or visit their child for six months or more, or a mental condition or substance abuse problem that is unlikely to be resolved within a year and which makes it contrary to the child's best interests to continue to be subject to the parent-child relationship. You may also be able to terminate a biological parent's rights for failure to support your child for six months or longer. If you find yourself in a situation where termination of parental rights is necessary, or if you are defending yourself against someone trying to terminate your parental rights, I can help.
In other circumstances, such as where an adoption is desired, it is first necessary to terminate the biological parent's rights. I can assist you with the process of TPR and adoption in these cases as well.
An order of a family court may be appealed to a higher court. I am a skilled appellate attorney and will vigorously fight for you in the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
Contact me at Sarji Law Firm. I will provide you with personal service and I am dedicated to helping you reach your goals. I serve clients throughout all of South Carolina, particularly those in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, and Beaufort Counties, and residents of Hilton Head.