South Carolina property division laws during a divorce take the form of equitable distribution. This is the same as most other states. Equitable distribution means that both spouses share a right to marital property, but not to non-marital property. A judge will divide marital property based on many different factors, from the length of the marriage to the values of each piece of property. Learn the types of property a judge may divide during a South Carolina divorce case to better prepare for your case.
If you are looking to divide your property but aren’t sure where to start, speak to a Fort Mill property division attorney today.
What is Marital Property?
The courts will only divide marital property in a South Carolina divorce case. It will not touch non-marital property. “Marital property” refers to any real or personal property the couple acquired together during the duration of the marriage. Any property the couple owned together at the time of filing for divorce will qualify as marital property and become part of the equitable property division process. Marital property may include:
- Homes and other real estates
- Vehicles and boats
- Family-owned businesses
- Checking and savings accounts
- Stocks, bonds, and investments
- Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, retirement accounts
- Valuable artwork, furniture, or other assets
- Debts, loans, and liens
These assets fall under the marital property umbrella if the couple acquired them after the date of their marriage, regardless of which spouse actually owns each asset. If your spouse purchased a new car with his/her money during your marriage and the vehicle is in your spouse’s name, for example, you will still both share a right to it during a divorce case. In the same vein, your spouse’s debts will become your own. The courts will preside over how to divide all marital property based on the facts of the case.
What is a Non-Marital Property?
The non-marital property will not fall under the court’s authority during the divorce-related property division. The non-marital property encompasses both property one spouse owned prior to marriage as well as gifts or inheritance only one spouse receives during the marriage. These are forms of non-marital property that will remain under the single spouse’s ownership after a divorce. The spouse will not have to share or divide these assets unless he or she wishes the courts to consider the non-marital property shared.
Deciding what qualifies as marital property vs. non-marital property can be difficult – especially if a couple has been together a long time and shares assets such as business ownership and bank accounts. It may take a lawyer’s help to revisit old titles and receipts to determine the timeline of major property purchases. A family lawyer in Fort Mill can be especially helpful if your spouse is refuting your claim to ownership over non-marital property. A lawyer can help prove that you acquired the asset prior to marriage, or that someone gifted you the asset specifically.
How Will Do the Courts Divide Marital Property in South Carolina?
Equitable distribution means the manner of property division rests with the court’s best judgment. A judge will hear both sides of a case and decide what is “fair and equitable division” based on facts such as who is to blame for the divorce, who will have custody of shared children, and the earning potential of each spouse. Having something like a contract stating that a certain item counts as a non-marital property is vital to keeping assets that are lawfully yours.
Strengthen your odds of keeping property by working with a family lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to represent your side of a divorce case can ensure you do everything in your power to keep marital and non-marital properties. A lawyer can investigate your spouse if you suspect him or her of hiding assets, such as keeping offshore bank accounts. Go with legal representation if your divorce case involves any complex or high-value assets.