MARITAL PROPERTY DIVISION: WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT IN YOUR SC DIVORCE?
WHO GETS TO KEEP THE HOUSE? THE CAR? AND OTHER “THINGS” FROM THE MARRIAGE?
In every divorce or separation, there are physical assets (real estate and personal property) to be considered in the marital property division part of the case. This is an important area to most couples, and negotiation skills come into play. South Carolina follows the law of Equitable Distribution of marital assets. First, you must actually define what property and debts are “marital.” It also has to be valued. And then it must be divided in a matter that is equitable as defined by the laws of South Carolina.
Generally speaking, marital assets and debts are those incurred or accumulated during the marriage either jointly or separately. The title of the property or the name attached to the debt does not determine whether it is a marital debt. Gifts from one spouse to the other are marital property, vested and non-vested retirement benefits earned during the marriage are marital, and the increased value of property owned before the marriage which is a result of marital efforts can be marital property. Non-marital property can include inheritance, gifts from third parties to a spouse, assets owned before marriage, assets specifically excluded by a pre-nuptial agreement, and others. Each asset is potentially one or the other, and couples frequently squabble over items, both large and small. Try to keep things in perspective, and save your energy for what is truly important – your children. Remember, most “stuff” in life can be replaced, and it is usually more fun to “start fresh.” Marital property is valued as of the date the lawsuit is filed. Any subsequent appreciation or depreciation of assets after filing but before divorce will also be partitioned.
As virtually everyone who has to have a judge decide, “equitable” is rarely “equal” in marital property division. This is where all of the “horror stories” are born. No one is going to be fully satisfied or feel they got everything they deserved. This is why we emphasize negotiating in good faith and being willing to compromise for the greater good. At a minimum, you retain some degree of control over the process. If the parties cannot reach an accord, the court will decide. And, as you should expect, there will be circumstances that a judge may find warrant an unequal division of property. For example, the Court will consider the length of the marriage, child custody arrangements, the relative financial circumstances of each spouse, any non marital property of each spouse, tax consequences of assets, support being paid or received, each spouses contributions to the marriage, any misconduct, and other factors. Each situation is different. We can explain the factors and how they may apply to your case. Many clients tend to stress over this part of the process. They have worked hard to earn what they have and do not want to lose assets. Again, try to discern what is really worth fighting for and what can be released. Some items will have sentimental value, but most property, both real and personal, are just “things.”
SELLING A HOUSE OR INVESTMENT PROPERTY DURING DIVORCE
In many cases, both parties work outside of the home and have their own careers. They become used to having two incomes, and their lifestyles reflect it. They have a nice home with a mortgage and two car payments. In short, it takes both incomes to support their lifestyle. So what happens when each party has to consider living on their own. Apartments are not cheap any longer. Even a one bedroom here in Fort Mill or Charlotte area can easily costs in excess of $1,000 per month, or more. Many couples find they cannot afford to stay in the marital home and assume all of the related costs. As a result, it may be necessary to consider selling the primary home and/or certain investment properties. Our divorce lawyers can help guide you through the legal process, but selling real estate is best left to the experts.
SELECTING A DIVORCE REALTOR®
Just like selecting your divorce attorney, you should also carefully choose a Realtor® when considering your real estate options. In many cases, the simplest solution is to sell and start a new chapter in a new home. When considering who to retain, we look for individuals with exceptional communication skills. During this process, many conversations will necessarily be frank and may not be what you want to hear but need to know. You and your spouse will need to mutually agree on the selection of a Realtor® as both will need to coordinate showings and work together when evaluating offers. Both spouses should also be present during listing presentations so as to make the best decision.
Here in Fort Mill, we suggest our clients consider Ms. Kathleen Brady. Kathleen is a Realtor® licensed in the State of South Carolina and is affiliated with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors. Kathleen lives here in Tega Cay, S.C. and know the area. She is passionate about selling real estate and empathizes with you and the emotional aspects of the divorce process. She earned a Master of Business Administration, Marketing & Strategy, from Wake Forest University and spent over 25 years in Corporate America in Contract Negotiation & Management, Marketing & Sales. As a result, she is well equipped to negotiate on your behalf when selling your home. You can reach Kathleen at 803.818.8017 . You can also learn more about her credentials and experience at www.cbunited.com/kathleenbrady.
Call our office today and let’s see what can be done in your situation. We would be honored to sit down with you personally and explain the process and what you should expect.