Introduction
FAQs
Parent-Child Relationship
Husband-Wife Relationship
Guardian ad Litem
Child Custody
Child Support
Wiretapping
Discovery
Trial Tips
Temporary Hearing
Domestic Violence
Mediation
Reconciliation
Initial Consultation
Dating
Separation Agreements
Fee Agreement
Choosing your Lawyer
The Final Hearing
Grounds for Divorce
Attorney's Fees
Apportionment
Alimony

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

Why this book?

I am a divorce lawyer. More broadly, though, I am a family law practitioner. child support, alimony, property division, and any domestic relations issues.

Chapter 2

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FAQs

Q#1. Must I have a lawyer to get a divorce?
Q#2. What are the grounds for divorce?
Q#3. Can my spouse and I use the same lawyer?

Chapter 3

THE INITIAL CONSULTATION

What should I bring?

When you first contact our office, you will be instructed to read this book...

Chapter 4

HONESTY

Why should I tell the truth?

Our clients are better than anyone else's clients. This does not mean that our clients are perfect.

Chapter 5

RECONCILIATION

What if we get back together?

The laws and public policy of South Carolina favor marriage and discourage divorce. We concur in that policy.

Chapter 6

MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION

Isn’t there a better way?

The theory is parties who cannot live together can resolve their problems to their mutual satisfaction helped by a mediator or arbitrator.

Chapter 7

COUNSELING

There's nothing wrong with me.

Why go? Professional counselors may accomplish many desirable results, but have a firm understanding with your counselor regarding confidentiality.

Chapter 8

CHILD CUSTODY

Who gets the children?

If you need to add more text here, this should work: Today, the answer to who gets the children is more complicated and less certain.

Chapter 9

THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM

Why appoint a stranger...
to represent my child? The family court judge may appoint a guardian ad litem if he finds that the court...

Chapter 10

PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS IN DIVORCE

How do I handle the children?

Separation and divorce is difficult for you and your spouse. It may be even more difficult for your children, sometimes called "the innocent victims of divorce."

Chapter 11

HUSBAND-WIFE RELATIONSHIPS AFTER SEPARATION

But we couldn't get along before . . .

Many separated couples get along better after the separation. Others continue to fight. People who could not live together will have some problems...

Chapter 12

SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

Do I need a separation agreement?

A separation agreement can serve many useful purposes. It defines the rights and obligations of the parties.

Chapter 13

DATING

When may I date?

A common misconception is a person separated from his or her spouse may date or go out with members of the opposite sex.

Chapter 14

DIVORCE—THE MONEY PROBLEMS

How can I survive on that?

Show me a couple with marital problems and I'll show you a couple with financial problems. Despite exceptions, this is frequently true.

Chapter 15

EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT

Who gets the property?

Who pays the debts? The family courts no long divide property according to title. They use the principle of equitable apportionment.

Chapter 16

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

He (or she) will kill me.

In 1984, South Carolina adopted its "Protection from Domestic Abuse Act.”

Chapter 17

THE TEMPORARY HEARING

When do we go to Court?

Often a party cannot wait until a final hearing for relief. In such cases, a temporary hearing determines the rights and obligations of the parties pending the final hearing.

Chapter 18

TRIAL PROCEDURES

What happens in court?

Most often, judges hold a pre-trial conference or status conference, ahead of a final hearing.

Chapter 19

TRIAL TIPS

How should I act in court?

Avoid flashy clothes and colors. Appear neat and clean. Wear little or no jewelry

Chapter 20

DISCOVERY

Why must we help them prepare...

the case against me? Properly used discovery makes trial preparation easier, reduces costs, and improves the quality of justice.

Chapter 21

PROVING YOUR CASE

How will the judge...

make his decision? We will prove your case in court by the testimony of the witnesses and with physical evidence or documents.

Chapter 22

WIRETAPPING

May I tap my spouse’s telephone?

If you really want to scare your lawyer, hand him or her an audio tape and say, “Listen to this.” He or she may evict you from the office before you can say, “Just kidding.”

Chapter 23

SOCIAL MEDIA

I have 2,236 Facebook friends. . .

Ben Franklin said, “If my enemy would only write a letter.” Today, he would say, “If my enemy would only post on social media.”

Chapter 24

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR CUSTODY

How will the judge know...

that I should have the children? The object in litigating custody is to prove that awarding custody to you will serve the best interests of the children.

Chapter 25

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR CHILD SUPPORT

How much child support will I receive (or pay)?

In theory, considering the needs of the children and the ability of each parent to meet those needs determines child support.

Chapter 26

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR ALIMONY

How much alimony will I receive (or pay)?

Until November 29, 1990, the rule was that an adulterous spouse does not receive alimony, even if the adultery occurred after the separation.

Chapter 27

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT

How do I prove my financial contribution?

Legal title makes little difference in the division of real estate or personal property that the parties acquired during their marriage.

Chapter 28

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES

I can't afford to pay your fee.

Domestic relations cases are difficult for the lawyer just as they are difficult for the client. The lawyer must expend considerable time and considerable energy for which he must be paid.

Chapter 29

PROVING THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

How will the judge know...

it was my spouse’s fault? This chapter, probably more than any other, deals with general statements of law.

Chapter 30

THE FINAL HEARING

When will it be over?

As a practical matter, the court will not hold the final hearing where a fault ground is alleged until ninety days after the summons was filed because the decree of divorce cannot be final until ninety days after filing.

Chapter 31

CHOOSING YOUR LAWYER

I do not have a clue about lawyers.

Every good lawyer I know, and also some bad ones, has more work than he or she can handle.

Chapter 32

FEE AGREEMENT

What is your fee?

Discussing my fees and requiring payment from clients is the part of practicing law I least enjoy.

Chapter 33

MISCELLANEOUS BITS AND PIECES

What about … ?

You are starting a new life. Plan that life to avoid past mistakes.

Chapter 34

MY PET PEEVES

What you can do to drive me nuts

If you hire me to work for you, then you are the employer and I am the employee within the terms of our retainer fee agreement.

Chapter 35

AMERICAN LITERATURE FOR CLIENTS

Who is Brer Rabbit and Who Cares?

Before I started school, my mother read Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris to me. At bedtime I always begged for one more story

Chapter 36

APPENDIX A

Retainer Fee Agreement

Our standard retainer fee agreement. Accurate estimates of fees are nearly impossible because of many factors over which we have no control.

Chapter 37

APPENDIX B

Getting Rid of the GAL (1)

How to save your client from those expensive, unnecessary officious intermeddlers. By Robert Rosen

Chapter 38

APPENDIX C

Your Deposition

Information and tips for your deposition, but also eventually for your trial testimony.

Chapter 39

APPENDIX D

Glossary

Definitions of commonly used words and terms to help you better understand the language of your case.