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Dividing Property in a South Carolina Divorce


If you are headed for a divorce in Columbia, you are going to want to know how a married couple's assets are divided upon divorce. You will also want to learn about debts and how those are divided.

In the United States, we have two methods of dividing a married couple's assets: 1) equitable division, and 2) community property. Only nine states are community property states, and they include California and Nevada, but South Carolina follows the more common "equitable division" model.

In community property states, all of the assets acquired during a marriage are subject to a 50/50 split regardless of whose name is on the account or title. That is NOT the case in South Carolina.

Under South Carolina's laws of equitable division, a couple's assets are split in an equitable and "fair," fashion, which does not necessarily mean equal.

Can we determine how property is split?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, it is ideal for married couples to decide on a property division arrangement that is satisfactory to both parties. To do this, the couple would make their agreement official by putting it in a martial settlement agreement, which the judge would sign off on.

What if my spouse and I cannot agree on the terms of a marital settlement agreement? In that case the judge presiding over your case would have to decide for you based on the state's equitable division laws.

Under equitable division or "equitable apportionment" under South Carolina's divorce laws, a married couple's property is split between the spouses in an equitable (fair) fashion. To determine what is fair, the court must examine a series of factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of both spouses
  • Each spouse's income and assets
  • Contributions as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent
  • How long it's been since a spouse was out of the workforce
  • The higher-earning spouse's ability to pay spousal support
  • The lower-earning spouse's need for financial support

Before the court can divide marital property, first it must determine what separate property is and what marital property is. Generally, marital property is all property acquired during the marriage regardless of whose name is on it or how it is titled.

In contrast, separate or non-marital property includes property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, inheritances acquired before or during the marriage, and property acquired after the divorce action was filed.

Financial Misbehavior by One Spouse

If your spouse engaged in financial misbehavior, for example, your husband blew your savings at the race track, or your wife ran up thousands in credit card debt on a shopping spree, the family court will weigh your spouse's financial misbehavior when deciding how much debt your spouse should be responsible for.

Keep in mind that if your spouse's misconduct drained the marital resources, the court wants to know about it.

For further information about property and debt division in a South Carolina divorce, don't hesitate to contactMasella Law Firm, P.A. at (803) 938-4952.

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