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Clemson Criminal & Family Law Blog

Debunking child custody myths

Family court cases in South Carolina can range greatly in nature. When divorce and child custody matters include a history of domestic abuse, the judge will prioritize the children's best interests. However, the manner in which such issues play out might surprise the parties involved. In fact, there are several myths regarding child custody decisions.

Common sense might suggest that a child custody decision involving an abusive parent might involve placing a child with the non-abusive party and limiting visitation rights for the other parent. However, the emotional impact of going through domestic abuse and divorce could involve fear and depression that interfere with the non-abusive parent's ability to care for their child. A judge might deem that parent unable to handle primary custody. In some rare instances, this could leave no alternative but to place the child with the other parent.

Managing a college savings account after a divorce

South Carolina residents considering a divorce or going through the process may be concerned about the fate of any long term investments that they made while married. It is possible that some savings accounts might be lost during the divorce or misspent by one of the departing spouses. Even investments such as savings for a child's college education may be at risk.

Many divorcing couples deal with this issue through a separation agreement. This is a signed contract between the former spouses that is often created before the divorce is finalized. It should cover gray areas and provide binding instructions for future use of savings account funds.

Points to consider when dividing retirement accounts

South Carolina couples over the age of 50 may be more likely to divorce than couples in their age group in past years. In 1990, fewer than half the number of couples over 50 divorced compared to today. While the main concern among younger couples who divorce might be child custody, for older couples, the focus is often on retirement accounts.

Divorcees need to keep a number of points in mind when they consider how their retirement accounts will be divided. For example, some types of retirement accounts, such as pensions and IRAs, are taxed when money is withdrawn while others, such as a Roth IRA, are taxed at contribution. Therefore, the value of retirement accounts after tax should be considered. Furthermore, people should keep in mind that the amount of money they make will affect which tax bracket they are in. Therefore, they might want to consider having each person take a different pre-tax amount to make the amount roughly equal after taxes.

Property division and the value of a business

Divorces can often be stressful and complicated. This is especially true when one or both spouses own a business in South Carolina. Along with other property, the business may need to be divided between the spouses. The first step in the division process will be to determine an accurate value of the business.

A complex business or the request by a third party, such as a judge or an arbitrator, for the value of the business, might mean that a full valuation is needed. This is the most accurate way of assessing the value of a business. It is also the more expensive and time-consuming option.

Divorce, video games, and co-parenting matters

Co-parenting after ending a marriage can be impacted by the manner in which South Carolina parents have approached their divorce. Those who work together through mediation or collaboration often seek solutions that will encompass the goals of both parties while keeping the best interests of a child in focus. However, those who have gone through a court battle could continue to experience major contentions over matters that are not particularly serious. The issue of screen time and video games, for example, might be a significant concern for some parents and a minor interest for others. Moderating a child's screen time when they are away from home could depend on the co-parenting relationship.

Custody and visitation decisions made by a judge tend to be based on a child's best interest, but these decisions are not likely to focus on every possible scenario that could be faced in either parental home. One of the best ways to provide a framework for moderation and limitations with a child's screen time is to discuss the issue with the other parent. Although one's view might be different, a compromise could be reached to ensure that a child's routines are not negatively affected by game play.

Child support for future Olympic athletes

Many South Carolina residents watched television coverage of Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas competing at the Rio Summer Olympics. The two athletes are both at the top of their game, and they are both children of divorced parents. Phelps and Douglas are a reminder that children can still accomplish great things after their parents end their marriage.

A divorced parent who believes that they may have the next little Phelps or Douglas will probably have a lot of athletic expenses each month. Paying for extra coaching, traveling to compete in tournaments and purchasing sports equipment can add up. In some cases, a divorced parent who is paying child support may have to pay extra to cover the child's athletic expenses.

Divorce and custody cases make relocating less likely

In the past, it was fairly common for people to move to other states in order to get better jobs, to have better living situations and to have brighter futures. Since the mid-1960s, however, the U.S. migration rates have significantly declined. A study points to the idea that divorce and child custody have a strong impact on why people in South Carolina and around the country are choosing to stay put rather than to move.

A researcher at the University of Connecticut looked at data concerning divorce and child custody along with migration rates. Migration for this purpose is defined as a person moving from one state to another. He found that divorce and child custody cases were strongly correlated with a reduction in the migration rates. Parents who have gone through child custody cases are especially less likely to move.

Concerns about finances during divorce

South Carolina residents who are getting a divorce and who are homeowners may need to make a number of financial decisions. This might be particularly difficult if they have not been responsible for many of the financial decisions in the marriage.

For example, they might wonder whether they should try to keep the house when the issue of property division arises. This might seem like a good idea if the mortgage has been paid off, but it may not be. If the house is large, it could be expensive to heat and cool. There are also other costs to consider such as overall upkeep.

Unemployed husbands may face higher divorce risk

A study has found that couples in South Carolina and throughout the country may be more likely to get a divorce if the husband is unemployed. Experts have speculated about the reasons that this is the case. One may be that men are more likely than women to be unemployed involuntarily.

The study, which was conducted by a sociology professor at Harvard, looked at more than 6,300 different-sex couples. The data specified a number of factors that do not seem to contribute to divorces. These included whether or not a wife had the ability to support herself, the couples' finances, and the equitable division of chores. While chore division did not affect younger couples, it did play a role in couples who married prior to 1975. For those couples, divorce risk increased as women did fewer household chores.

Determining where a child will live when parents divorce

When a South Carolina couple has a child, they may split parenting duties especially if one ends up working more than the other. If the couple decides to get a divorce later on, however, the parent who was primarily responsible for the child's care may be considered to be the primary caretaker. This can potentially influence where the child will live once the divorce is finalized.

The court determines who the child's primary caretaker was by considering who was responsible for certain tasks. These tasks potentially include bathing, dressing and feeding the child, arranging health care appointments and being involved in extracurricular or school activities.