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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with 14 years experience
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My wife only earned $70K throughout our marriage. I earned

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My wife only earned $70K throughout our marriage. I earned $300K plus. Our assets value at $130K since being married. Do I necessarily have to pay $65K? I got a letter from her father saying if I walk away from our daughter's life I can keep ALL the money.

Also how can I fight to get 26 weeks per year with my daughter? I want complete shared custody.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Hello,

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What state is this in?

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Were all assets acquired during the marriage in both your names?

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How long was the marriage?

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
South Carolina.
Yes
4 years 5 months
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

South Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state, so the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award. So there is nothing that states that everything has to be split 50/50.

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If you can enter into a written agreement signed by both parties as to any property distribution, that would be a binding agreement during the divorce.

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The default custody award in SC is joint custody with each parent having equal time unless there is something that would make a parent unfit or unable to care for the child.

As part of any divorce action, you would also file a petition for joint custody. So as long as there is nothing negative in your history (drug, alcohol, or physical abuse) and you can care for the child, it is likely that you would be awarded joint custody.

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In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon the preference based upon the child's age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference. The court will also consider evidence of domestic violence, the current situation and nature of the divorce, and the religious faith of the parents. The court will not award custody based upon the gender of the parent. (Code of Laws for South Carolina - Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-100, 20-7-1520)
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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
If my child is only 11 months then aren't I more likely to get 26 FULL WEEKS per year? I keep being told I would have to settle for only every other weekEND.

Also receiving a letter saying I can have 100% marital assets if I walk out on my child is borderline blackmail. Can that help me in court?
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Well, this would depend on the judge, but I doubt it. But to be perfectly honest, at that age, judges tend to favor the mother when the child is an infant as they feel that the mother is better able to care for the child. That doesn't mean that you wouldn't be able to do so, just that their tendency is to favor the mother at that age as the primary custodial parent with the father having visitation/custodial rights. It is unlikely that either parent would get some extended unbroken period of custody as the court wants both parents to bond with the child.

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As for the letter, that was from her father and wouldn't have any legal bearing on the divorce. Even if it was from her, I don't think it could be held against her as it would be an offer for you to relinquish your parental rights in exchange for some type of payment. A parent may choose to voluntarily terminate their parental rights if they choose to and the court accepts the termination.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
When I say 26 full weeks I meant every other week at a time. How can a child bond with both parents if one parent ONLY gets every other weekEND? Being that she is younger, makes it more logical for me to be able to have her 1802.5 days per year so she will not have to worry about 'adjusting' to it at an older age. She will be close to 18 months when we divorce.

I have heard of many fathers getting 182.5 days per year, I just want to know HOW to do it. I did not mean 26 weeks in a row. I meant every other week. I can NOT bond with the child just every other weekend. I love my child very much and I deserve 50% time since I am 50% parent.

Also even without the letter. Seeing that she only earned 18% of all monies would not "fair" be NOT 50% of the assets? I mean 18% of assets sounds fair seeing she only made 18%.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Well, you will have to detail out a custody schedule that sets out what you are seeking when you file your petition. You can set it out on a separate page that you draft up and attach it to the petition as an attachment. But I don't know that a judge would do a full week at a time, it is more likely that he would do a 2, 2, 3 schedule that would roll each week. This means that Mom gets child 2 days, Dad 2, Mom 3, Dad 2 Mom 2 Dad 3, etc. This is the most common split for a child that age with an exactly equal custodial arrangement. Typically Thanksgiving and Christmas would alternate.

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But it will boil down to you convincing the judge that this is in the "best interests of the child" as that is the standard that he has to decide on. What does that mean? Whatever the judge decides it means. He will look at both parents work schedules and determine if it is realistic for a parent to have custody if they have to work 5 days a week, or overnights, or out of town, etc. But your commitment and dedication to your daughter will come through in any testimony before the court.

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As for the division of assets, the judge will place some value on being a homemaker if she did that. Doing household chores, laundry, preparing meals, etc. all have some value in a judge's opinion. So it is extremely unlikely that he would base it strictly on income.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The thing is if I only paid what was due each month, the amortization schedule shows that today we would only have $20K paid off (meaning 10K for her). Me working and sacrificing got us $130K paid off.

She did some household but not cooking a lot. I could testify in court she did not do much around the house and expected me to. She stayed on the phone almost all day when she was home.

Many kids are in daycare. She is staying with her parents mooching it up. What could I say/do to appeal to a judge?

The judge we had at temp hearing seemed pretty conservative in fact he kinda teased her and asked could she spend the night with me so I could get more time with the baby because she was breast feeding. She stammered on many answers and even she would tell you that the judge seemed like he picked on her and not me. In fact he CUT $150/month the child support I was WILLINGLY giving her. She took me to court to UP the child support and dude cuts it $150/month. She also tried to make it where I only saw her 1 day every other weekend. Judge granted me EVERY Sat and EVERY Sun. If that gives you any idea. Good chance we'll get the same judge. There are only 2 there.

If I have my mom move in with me or live close by, do I have a shot? I'm trying to avoid daycare. Alternative: If I must settle for every other weekend but get married a couple years later and new wife stays home, could I get the 182 days?
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

That is pretty encouraging about the support and the visitation as it looks like he is leaning toward you for being a stand up dad and wanting to be in your child's life. And yes, typically once one judge begins a case, he will keep it from then on so another judge doesn't have to "learn" the case each time.

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Anything you can do to ensure that you can care for the child if you get her more will help. Having mom close to care for her while you are at work will definitely help as it shows you are already making arrangements for care and aren't just figuring it out as it goes along.

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As circumstances change, there is nothing that would prevent you from asking the court to modify the custodial agreement to give you more time. But obviously you would want to strenuously explain to the judge that you want to spend as much time as possible with your child and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so. As the child gets older and moves to formula it will be much more likely you can get more time.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Well if she is entitled to 1/2 the assets, isn't she entitled to deal with 1/2 the debt also? She's told me that her lawyer is promising her $80K. How is that possible with only $130K in assets?

Example of debt: Our termite bond expired while she was still here. A new one is $1000, shouldn't she be responsible for 1/2?
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

That would be true in an entirely equal division. But it is unlikely that her lawyer has promised her a set figure. He might have said we will shoot for around 80K, but I have never seen a lawyer pin himself down by promising a figure.

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I hate to bring this up, but with you earning over 4x what she earns (70 vs. 300), there will likely be some spousal support as well as child support awarded even if you got custody exactly split evenly. This is because the judge uses a formula that takes into account both parents incomes and figures out an amount for child support. Spousal support may be awarded for some limited time to allow her to seek a better job or more education to get a better job.

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So I would be prepared for this. If you don't have an attorney fighting for your interests, you are kind of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

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thanks

Barrister

 

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
At our child support and maintentance and separation hearing the same judge said it was not an alimony worthy case. She left with no grounds. I tend to think the judge may be onto her. On paper it looks like she left to get half the assets that I worked the most for. Also 10 weeks after having our baby. He told her she need to get a job. She's living with her parents which is horrible because her mom is always talking nasty around our daughter which concerns me.

Could she be trying to make me buy her a car? Her car she brought to the marriage was paid for as was mine before marrying. Her car blew it's engine. After she left her father bought her a new car and paid cash. They are millionaires and she don't need my money.

Also she calls me today telling me her parents are claiming MY daughter on their taxes. My tax accountant told me to claim her because I pay $8372/year child support. My lawyer (whom I can't get in touch with for 3 weeks now) told me that the judge has to decide it. He may allow me to claim her. I'm so confused.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Ok, that changes things a bit. If the judge has already ruled that it is not "alimony worthy" then that should be resolved.

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It sounds like she it trying to get some "buy out" from you so she has some spending money. So since she is supported by her parents it is much less likely that she will get anywhere near half as she doesn't need it to pay for living expenses.

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The judge will decide who gets to claim the child on their taxes, but I would opine that you have a much stronger claim due to the fact that the parents aren't the legal guardians and she is being supported by her parents so equitably doesn't need the deduction. But the judge will make the final decision. But at any rate, I don't see the parents being able to claim her because the child is not their dependent.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Well the judge told her she needed to get a job. I have a feeling she is trying to play the "I was hoping to go back to school card". She is 37, that girl was never going back to school. She has not worked since 2009 when she got laid off. However she was 3 months pregnant and I told her she won't have to worry about working again that I was going to take care of us and wanted our child raised not in daycare.

I have people telling me it's impossible for me to get my child for equal time. My lawyer told me 110 days was standard in SC but every other weekend only equals 52 days.

The concept of every other weekend was for when both parents worked and each should have equal weekends. Well if she is not working and I can't flex my schedule, why shouldn't I get her at least every other Weds or Thurs - Sunday? Instead of just 48 measly hours. Every other Thurs-Sun would be drastically better in my opinion.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My lawyer is located directly across the street from the court house and I went by there today and NO ONE was there. I hope they are getting their messages. I called the court today and they say I don't need to be represented to get child support lowered. Which is why I been trying to get a hold of my lawyer.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Well, that is why you should have your attorney push for the 2, 2, 3 schedule I mentioned earlier. But as the child gets older, it is typically easier to get more time.

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You don't have to be represented as you can file your own motion pro se, but if you can't get in contact with your lawyer and he isn't returning your calls, you might consider sending him a letter certified mail asking about the status of your case so you can see if he is at least getting his mail.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
All I know is it is not fair for me to work 60 hours a week to pay our home off (130K marital equity) when if I made minimum payments all this time, we'd only have $18K in equity which would only give her $9K. I doubt she would still be gone for just 9K and I wish the judge will think outside the box.

Even the judge told us he's never in 12 years had a case where people were our age and had paid off their home that fast. I bet if this was very common they would change the law to suit these type cases. There would be a lot less divorces if the "defecting spouse" got nothing or the % she actually put in if he/she leaves w/o legal grounds.

I just hope because her dad bought her a car for $8600 I do not have to reimburse her. The car she had was only worth $2000 when it died. Heck, I need a new car too as mine can die any moment. I have been dragging it along as much as possible. This is South Carolina so I don't know if that means anything to what's going to happen.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

I would have to agree with you that it isn't fair for one horse to pull all the load while the other rides in the cart.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Then do you think in SC I'll have an opportunity to present all this to the judge and he might make it more fair? Or will he not even listen to it and rush us in and out? If the judge rushes us in and out and everything is not resolved can it be appealed or would we have to get another hearing? My fear is there will be much grey matter after the final hearing.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Yes you should have time to present your side if you have it all organized in a concise manner. Typically the judge will set aside about a half hour for these type cases so you have to be ready to present your case and arguments pretty quickly. There is nothing that says a hearing can't take longer if there are lots of issues but the judge will have reviewed the case before the hearing and will pretty much know what is going on. Additionally he will have read your motion and supporting evidence beforehand so will know what you are going to argue. Unless some new evidence is brought out at the hearing, the judge pretty much knows which way he is leaning even before the hearing.

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But if you don't get everything resolved, you would get another court date to continue it or the judge would just extend your time that day. If you get a ruling that you don't agree with, you would then have to appeal it to the next higher court.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My wife thinks she is getting 80K out of 130K in assets for some crazy reason. Will she likely have to share in the debts with me too? Such as renewing the termite bond, property taxes, homeowner insurance? Those 3 things alone were over 3K
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the judge would determine who is liable for debts the same way he assigns assets. She wouldn't just get assets and not be responsible for any debt unless the judge already factored the debt into consideration when deciding what assets she gets.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I wonder if he'll consider if I paid the minimum house payments we would only be at $18K in equity which $9K would be half. I busted my tail and paid it off $130K in equity. She and her lawyer automatically think they are getting $65K but I made 82% of the income. I feel I should get 82% of the assets. I did as much house work as her. She did dishes and laundry. I did repairs, lawn care, etc. She and I both cooked. I know they will play the household game. She only worked 30 hours per week. I worked 50-60 per week. I don't mind giving her 30-35K but she thinks she's getting 65K because it's half of 130K. Do I have a chance at all?

If she lives 45 miles away that's not too far for me to get 1/2 equal time with child before she is of school age is it?
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Based on what you have said so far about the judge, yes.

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I wouldn't think that would be far enough away to have an effect on the custodial award.

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Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My lawyer said my wife seemed extremely nervous and the Judge could pick up on that. At the time she was only 6 months old and I said I wanted her overnight even though she is breast fed. The judge was really grilling her and seemed to gave me a free ride but is it normal for a judge to ask the wife "can you spend the night at your husbands home so he can get your daughter over night now?"
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

That would be extremely odd, to be perfectly honest. It appears that you have a "dad sympathetic" judge which definitely plays in your favor.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Are you guys a lawfirm or been lawyers and actually seen these scenarios take place? Where a wife only got less than 50% and father gets more than just every other weekend? Also what IS "normal" visitation as far as holidays and everything?
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

The Legal Experts on JA are all licensed attorneys who are independent contractors for JA. So each individual attorney's experiences may vary.

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But yes, in equitable distribution states such as yours, it is common for there to be a property settlement that is not exactly 50/50. Any custody/visitation order is case and fact dependent so there is not really a "normal" order. But typically, absent any negative factors that count against either parent, the order would be 50/50 with parents alternating weekends. I have seen one week on one off custody, 2, 2, 3 visitation and alternating weekends (although this is usually when the child is very young).

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Although I can understand your desire to get the most for your money, JA frowns on an Expert answering numerous related, but different questions if they have yet to "ACCEPT" any of the previous responses or answers.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If I have answered your question, PLEASE CLICK THE GREEN "ACCEPT" button NOW, so that I receive credit for my work. Bonuses are optional and greatly appreciated. Please keep in mind that I don't make the laws, I am just reporting/interpreting them, so the outcome may not be what you had hoped for.

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Can I keep this blog for my own use? If so, I accept. Thanks for the help. I hope my lawyer finally is in his office next week. This is scary.
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Sure, you can access it at any time through your account with JA. Just make sure you write down your id and any password XXXXX have when you set up an account. I am not positive how it works from the customer side but I think they ask you to set up an account when you place your deposit.

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thanks

Barrister

 

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If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.

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Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 23939
Experience: Attorney with 14 years experience
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