Sunday, July 26, 2009

Child Support Calculator

Ever wonder how Judges calculate your child support in South Carolina? South Carolina uses "child support guidelines" to calculate child support. These guidelines are based on the gross income of the parties, and provides credits for such things as:

1. work related child care expenses
2. previous court ordered child support payments,and
3. health insurance premiums for children

If you would like to estimate your child support, click here to check out the DSS child support calculator.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What to expect in Court?

When going to Court regarding divorce, your attorney should try to prepare you as much as possible as to what to expect. Besides the basics of dressing appropriately, providing copies of your evidence to the court as well as opposing attorney and your spouse, some of the general things you can expect in a Courtroom (for a final hearing) include:

1. Finality. Judges will make final decisions regarding your divorce, alimony, property division. Once that decsion is made, any choice you had is gone. Consider what is truly important to you and what you may be willing to compromise before getting to that point. Some counties require mandatory mediation and pretrial conferences, so by the time you get to a trial, you should only be dealing with issues that you can't resolve on your own.

2. Evidence. If you are alleging that your spouse makes more than they are saying, be prepared to provide documentation. You have to prove your case. Make a journal if you have to from the time you start considering divorce and obtain copies of financial documents. Keep your attorney informed of anything that might help prove what you are saying and support what you are asking for.

3. Witnesses. If you have a witness to prove a point (whether it be personal or expert), make sure your attorney has spoken with them first and bring them to court. Judges expect parties to make self serving statements to get what they want. Many times, third parties can help because they may be more objective and may prove your case.

4. Testimony. In a trial, you will likely testimy. Prepare your testimony with your attorney to stay on point with the legal issues. Most times you won't be allowed to cover every aspect of your life with your spouse. Try to stick to the issues.


1. Judges don't (or at least shouldn't) know you or your spouse so they can't take your word for it. They can't know who to believe and you can't expect to prove you case by insisting that you are telling the truth.

2. Your attorney can't guarantee a result and sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, you still may not get what you want or feel that you are entitled to.

3. South Carolina family court hearings are determined by a Judge, not a jury. Judges are ordinary eople and you never know what testimony or evidence will be the most convincing or what the final decision will be.

4. If you have questions about your legal situation, a consultation can cost you a lot less than not doing anything until your spouse serves you with papers. Sometimes by that point, you spend the entire divorce playing catch up to your spouse who has been preparing their case before they hired an attorney.

5. Try to manage your expections. Be honest about what you want when talking to your attorney.

Do you need to hire an attorney?

This is an excellent question. For many individuals who have been separated for more than a year and are contemplating an uncontested divorce where there are no children, no property, no debts, no alimony issues there are forms that you can use represent yourself. You are not required to hire an attorney. If you consider this route, make sure to look for forms with specific instructions that you feel comfortable following. Additionally, legal services offers free classes to help individuals represent themselves in a divorce.

If there are contested issues, consult with an attorney. You don't have to hire the attorney if you are not satisfied with a consultation. Start early, ask questions, and keep a journal of what is going on in your life.

How Can you help your Attorney help you with your Divorce?

One of the most important things that I like for clients to do is to write down what they would like to accomplish in this divorce and their disagreements with their spouse. It helps to focus the client on what is important to them because sometimes the attorney might have have a completely different focus on what you want. It also helps to determine your expections with the court system.

As much as letting a client know their legal options, I like to help clients transition through this painful process to hopefully get their life back to a normal place or better. Being able to give a client some peace of mind helps determine if the attorney and client are a good fit.

Going through a divorce can be like jumping out of a plane. Your attorney is similar to a parachute to help with the landing. If both you your attorney know what you want and expect, it will help to determine your legal rights and whether all of your complaints can be addressed through court.