The Divorce Process

The Divorce Process in Columbia

What to Expect when You File for Divorce

Divorcing from your spouse is a major step, as you end one phase of your life and set out on a new chapter. Many people who have decided they no longer want to continue in their marriages hesitate to take action by filing for divorce out of concerns over what to expect during the process and uncertainty about how divorcing will affect things such as their standard of living and their relationship with their children. While family law is a complex subject and one that is often fraught with emotion, it is important to know that you can find help by coming to a Columbia divorce lawyer at the Masella Law Firm, P.A. We have a wealth of legal experience, and an attorney from our team is ready to meet with you to discuss your concerns and educate you about your rights. To begin the process, read through this brief outline of the process of filing for divorce, and call or visit our office today.

Proving that You Have Grounds for Divorce

In many ways, divorce is a private and personal matter between you and your spouse, but at the same time it is also a legal issue which must be resolved in the courts. Marrying gives you and your spouse certain legal rights and responsibilities, and before the judge will approve your divorce, you must prove that you can satisfy one of the five grounds as outlined in the South Carolina Code of Laws §20-3-10:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for at least a year
  • Physical cruelty, such as domestic violence
  • Habitual drunkenness or use of narcotic drugs
  • Living separately and apart without cohabitation for at least a year

If you and your spouse want a no-fault divorce, we can help you file for a legal separation, which will include setting terms for spousal support / alimony and child custody.

Filing the Complaint

If you are the one who is initiating the divorce, we will assist you in serving a summons and complaint upon your spouse, which is essentially a document announcing your intention to end the marriage and detailing your expectations for matters such as property division, custody and visitation, and alimony. Your spouse will have 30 days in which to file an answer and a counterclaim to challenge your demands.

Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce

The family law courts prefer to prevent contested divorces whenever possible, so if you and your spouse disagree on the terms of the final settlement the judge may order you to use alternative dispute resolution services. A Columbia divorce attorney from our team can help you with mediation by acting as a neutral third party, facilitating discussions and advising on legal matters while representing neither you nor your spouse. We can also represent you in negotiations with your spouse's attorney, seeking to settle your affairs without a trial.

If an Out-of-Court Settlement Isn't Possible

While we will do everything in our power to secure a favorable divorce settlement through negotiations out of court, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial if that is what is necessary to defend your personal interests. In a trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and introduce witnesses, seeking to persuade the judge to rule in their favor on matters such as whether to order alimony payments, who should keep the house and which parent is better suited to care for the children. In the event that the case goes to trial, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf-we know how much is at stake for your future, and are willing to fight for you.

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