What Do I Do If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Their Child Support in South Carolina?

You rely on child support to pay for your child’s expenses. It’s a lifesaver because you don’t have as much money as you did when you and your ex were together.

However, now the monthly checks have stopped, and you aren’t sure what to do. You can’t afford your child’s bills all on your own or get another job. You’re already strapped for cash and stressed out as it is. It isn’t fair that your ex can just stop paying and leave you and your child with nothing to live on.

Thankfully, you do have recourse if your ex has stopped paying child support. But it will require taking legal action in getting the court involved to compel them to start paying again.

The following are steps to take if your ex has ceased paying child support in South Carolina.

Contact Your Attorney

Your family law attorney will know exactly what to do if your ex has stopped paying child support. They can work with your county’s child support enforcement office to schedule a hearing in court, or they may decide to file a private contempt action to get them to pay. Then, your ex will have to deal with something called the Rule to Show Cause, where they will have to show why they stopped paying. This is a contempt of court hearing.

If your ex is indeed found to be in contempt of court, then they will have to make up the missed payments immediately or on a specified schedule, depending on the circumstances. If your ex does not do that, then a number of consequences could ensue.

The court could:

  • Garnish your ex’s wages from their paycheck
  • Seize their federal or state tax refunds
  • Intercept their unemployment checks
  • Cause their license to be suspended
  • Garnish their personal injury settlements that are more than $3,000
  • Deduct from their Social Security or Workers’ Compensation Funds

In an extreme situation, your ex may also have to pay a fine of up to $1,500, and they could go to jail for up to one year.

All of these consequences could get you the money you need as well as persuade your ex to pay up as soon as possible.

Try Mediation

Let’s say your ex wants to pay, but they can’t because they lost their job. Now, they are willing to make lower payments to you to show the court that they are not being irresponsible and are simply experiencing a hardship.

As long as your ex is willing to work with you, you could go to mediation with them and figure out a solution. Then if necessary, they could petition the court to lower their payments until they can find a new job again. Mediation may be the best solution in these circumstances because it may be less costly and save you the headache and emotional distress of fighting in court.

Keep Calm

It can be very tempting to send angry text messages to your ex when they’re behind on child support, or talk about them in a negative way in front of your children or on social media. While you have the right to feel upset, acting emotional instead of logical could not only have a negative effect on your children, but could hurt your case as well.

At all times, you have to be the bigger person and show the court you’re a responsible parent. If you’re having a hard time talking nicely to your ex, you could always communicate through your lawyer instead and seek out a therapist for help during this difficult time.

Contact Nowell Law Firm, LLC

If your ex has stopped paying child support in South Carolina, family law attorneys at Nowell Law Firm will be able to help with your situation. If you are having trouble paying for your bills while waiting for child support, they’ll be able to direct you to the right resources.

Right now, it’s simply not fair that you’re struggling because your ex is irresponsible. You need an advocate on your side. Nowell Law Firm will help you every step of the way when you’re fighting for your child support, and will work hard to get you the support you and your child deserve. Contact our Spartanburg, SC office today to discuss your case.

Challenges of Families Divorcing With Special Needs Children

When you were married, you and your spouse lovingly looked after your special needs child, providing them the utmost care and giving them as much attention as they needed.

Now that you’re going through a divorce, you’re worried about what the future holds. You know that it’s going to be a lot tougher to be a single parent, especially when you have a special needs child who needs constant and consistent care.

But by knowing the challenges that lie ahead, you will be able to navigate them better and ensure you and your child is happy and healthy.

The following are the challenges you may face if you’re a divorcee with special needs children, as well as information on how a family law attorney can help you during this time.

Child Support Continues Past 18

Usually child support payments end when a child turns 18. But if you have special needs children who were disabled before they turned 18 and cannot live alone, then you’ll have to continue to pay child support if that’s what the court orders. On the other hand, if you have primary custody, you will continue to receive support, which could be a big help.

Caring for Your Children Is a Full-Time Job

When your spouse was working, you stayed home and watched your special needs child or vice versa. But now that you’re getting divorced, you know you may need to give up your full-time job or put some of your career goals on hold to care for your child. If you get child support, alimony or both, it could relieve some of the burden.

You May Have to Modify Your New Home

The home you shared with your spouse might have had special equipment that helped your special needs child function from day to day. However, you’ve since moved out, and you have to look for a home that is accessible for your child. You might have to install the equipment all over again, which can be time-consuming and costly.

You Might Need to Find a New School

If you moved out of the home you shared with your spouse, you may be in a different school district now. This means you’ll have to find a new school for your child, which could confuse them and take some time for them to get used to. During this adjustment period, you may need to pay extra attention to them so they receive the emotional support needed when making this transition.

You May Need to Find New Help

If you and your spouse hired nannies, nurses and other specialists to help with your special needs child, you might need to hire new support staff. This could take awhile, as everyone knows it can be difficult to find good help.

Your Child Will Need You More Than Ever

Divorce is tough on everyone. You and your ex are likely going through a rollercoaster of emotions and coping with the end of your marriage. Divorce is especially hard on kids, and it can be even more challenging for kids with special needs, who may not know how to process what’s going on.

Your child will need you more than ever before, which isn’t easy when you’re trying to come to terms with your situation yourself. By seeking advice from specialists, however, you can get through this emotionally draining time and come out stronger on the other side.

Finding a Family Law Attorney Who Can Help

An experienced family law attorney will know what it’s like to go through a divorce with special needs children, and they can offer guidance on the best way to navigate both the legal and emotional issues. They can assist you in getting the child support you need to care for your children as well as navigate child custody issues, which are notoriously arduous.

The most important thing right now is that you feel supported in your divorce process, because if you are calm and centered, you are going to provide the strength and support your child needs right now.

Contact The Mark Nowell Law Firm in South Carolina

If you are a divorcee with special needs children in South Carolina and you are looking for representation, family law attorney Mark Nowell is here to help. Contact our office today to schedule a personalized consultation.

 

How is Property Divided during a South Carolina Divorce?

When a couple gets divorced, the division of property can be one of the most contentious issues that needs to be resolved. Oftentimes, money and finances are major reasons for the divorce in the first place, and it can be very difficult to reach a peaceable and workable agreement between the spouses on how to divide the property. When this is the case, the court makes these decisions.

South Carolina is not a community property state, which means that property is not automatically divided 50/50 between the spouses. The Palmetto State divides property in a divorce based on equitable distribution laws. This means that marital property is to be divided in a “fair and equitable” way. In some cases, it could be 50/50, but in other cases, it might be more practical to allow one spouse to keep a little bit more of the marital estate.

There are several factors that a court looks at when dividing marital property:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ages and health conditions of each spouse.
  • The value of the marital estate.
  • Any history of marital misconduct on the part of either spouse.
  • The contributions of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, and appreciation of marital property (including the contributions of a stay-at-home spouse).
  • The incomes and earning capacities of each spouse.
  • Child custody, child support, and alimony issues.
  • The tax implications of the proposed property division.
  • Any debts or liens on the marital estate.
  • Any legally valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that provides specific direction on how certain property is to be divided.
  • Any other factors that the court deems relevant.

What is Marital Property?

One thing that can make it difficult for spouses to agree on how to divide the marital estate is when they are not on the same page about what is actually in it. Only marital property is part of the equitable distribution, and non-marital property is excluded.

In general, marital property is property that was acquired or earned during the marriage, even if it is only in one spouse’s name. For example, if one of the spouses bought a vehicle while they were married and only put their name on the title, that vehicle still belongs to the marital estate. Some property that was received during the marriage may be non-marital, however. Examples include gifts or inheritance that went to just one of the spouses.

Other than exceptions like those mentioned above, non-marital property is generally only property that belonged to one of the spouses before the marriage. But this is not always as simple and straightforward as it seems.

For example, you might have a retirement account that you started when you were single, but the value of it increased significantly because of contributions and appreciation that happened while you were married. In a case like this, part of the account might be deemed marital, and part of it might be deemed non-marital, but it might take some effort to determine what’s what. Or the court might just decide to call it either all marital or all nonmarital if most of the assets in the account belong to one or the other.

Co-mingled funds are another issue that can make things confusing. For example, maybe you had an individual bank account that you brought into the marriage with a balance of $50,000 in it. Then you used that money to make a down payment on a house that you bought jointly with your spouse. Are you entitled to an additional $50,000 of equity in the house because of that contribution? Not likely, because now the money you brought into the marriage is gone and only the joint asset remains.

Reaching a Mutual Agreement on Property Division

As you can see, dividing marital property can be a more complex process than some divorcing spouses might realize. For this reason, it is most often in the best interests of both spouses to have their attorneys negotiate a settlement that works for everyone.

You and your spouse understand far better than the court what each asset and piece of property means to you, so it is much better to work it out among yourselves rather than rolling the dice on what the court might do. This of course requires a willingness to work cooperatively and to compromise on some things. If you and your spouse are willing to do that, then dividing the marital estate can be a less costly and less stressful process.

Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable South Carolina Family Law Attorney

If you are considering a divorce in South Carolina, the Nowell Law Firm is here to help. We work closely with our clients, and we always try to work out a settlement as long as it is in keeping with our clients’ best interests. If your spouse is unwilling to be reasonable, however, then we are ready and able to aggressively advocate for your rights and interests in court.

To schedule a consultation, message us online or contact our Spartanburg office today at (864) 469-2481. We look forward to serving you!

 

 

How Will the Coronavirus Affect Family Legal Matters?

Everyone is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless businesses have had to close their doors, and millions of Americans have suddenly found themselves out of a job. Most of the country is under lockdown until the virus passes, the children are doing distance learning, and a lot of people have moved their offices to their homes.

The coronavirus pandemic is sure to affect every area of our society, and particularly families. Families will be impacted in numerous ways, and this includes legal proceedings that have been filed in the family courts, or that were about to be filed, as well as ongoing settlement agreements from prior proceedings.

Divorce

With the South Carolina courts closed for everything except emergency hearings, the most immediate effect will be a delay in the divorce proceeding. Depending on how long things are shut down, a newly filed divorce could be delayed for several months. While waiting, divorcing spouses can use this time to get better prepared. Make sure you have all of the documents that will be needed for the discovery process and discuss any other issues with your attorney that have not already been covered.

The delay might also present an opportunity to settle some of the major sticking points like parenting plans and property division without the involvement of the courts. This could be accomplished through an alternative process such as arbitration, mediation, or negotiation, all of which can be done remotely through phone or videoconferencing.

As for the future, many experts expect a rise in divorces resulting from the coronavirus shutdown. Couples being isolated for an extended period of time when they are not used to spending that much time together as well as the stress of tighter finances could trigger a lot of couples that may have already been having marital problems to call it quits.

On the other hand, Psychology Today cautions that this event is unprecedented, and we don’t really know what the world will look like when it is all over. Divorces could spike, but then again, we could be looking at another baby boom. Only time will tell.

Child Custody/Visitation

For many parents who are already separated or divorced, COVID-19 has been very disruptive to their parenting plans. The kids are home all day, and some parents are home more after having lost their jobs or started working remotely. For other parents, the coronavirus means working long hours and lots of overtime. This is particularly true if they are front-line workers such as hospital staff, truck drivers, and grocery store workers.

On top of the scheduling issues, there are some families in which the parents do not see the situation the same way. For example, one parent might want to keep the kids at home in keeping with social distancing guidelines, while the other prefers to take them out more because they do not think COVID-19 is all that dangerous.

Parents that suddenly find themselves with custody and visitation schedules that no longer make sense should try to work out a temporary schedule adjustment on their own. If necessary, they may want to get their lawyers involved to negotiate the new schedule on their behalf or at the very least, draw up a temporary agreement to get them through this situation.

Unfortunately, there will be some families in which reaching an agreement on their own is not possible. In such cases, they can petition the court for an emergency proceeding in order to protect the safety and well-being of their children.

Spousal Support/Child Support

We know that the shutdown which has been triggered by the COVID-19 crisis will be devastating financially to a lot of families. As a result, many parents who are paying child support and/or spousal support may see a significant drop in income or even lose their job altogether. In South Carolina, support payments can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances, and a major change in income (either negative or positive) could certainly be a basis to petition the court for a modification.

This, by the way, could apply to either the paying or receiving spouse. So if, for example, the receiving spouse lost his/her part-time job because of the coronavirus pandemic and the paying spouse’s income did not change, then the receiving spouse may be able to petition for a higher support payment.

Whatever the situation, it is not easy to succeed with a petition for modification. If you are considering going this route, be sure to work with a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney to help ensure that your petition is prepared properly.

The Nowell Law Firm is Here to Help

As we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, we are all in this together. At the Nowell Law Firm, we are still open and available to help South Carolinians with family legal matters and other legal issues you may have. We are taking all the precautions and practicing social distancing, and we are doing most of our work remotely these days. Still, we are well equipped to help you with your legal issue.

For a consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at (864) 469-2481. We look forward to serving you!