14 Realities of Divorce and Family Court in SC

14 Realities of Divorce and Family Court in SC

By M. J. Goodwin

This list is based on 24 years of practice in the Family Courts of South Carolina.  Family Court matters are very fact specific and full of emotion and pain.  These guidelines are painful for many clients to hear, but are necessary nonetheless.   A wise client realizes that their attorney will not (and should not, in reality) tell them everything that the client wants to hear.  Any such legal advice should be viewed with caution.

The 14 Realities of Divorce and Family Court are:

  1. It does not matter what you think or feel the law should be. All that matters is what the law is and how the facts of your situation fit into the applicable law.  Very few cases result in changes in how law is interpreted or applied.  No cases result in a Court changing the law, because that is not how our system works.
  2. An experienced Family Court lawyer knows far more about what is likely to happen in your situation than your friends and family do. If you are paying for legal advice, it is only sensible to follow the legal advice you bought.  If you question the legal advice, either get a second opinion or get another lawyer. But don’t tell your lawyer what your cousin said or what your friend’s friend at work said about your case.
  3. If you don’t follow a Court order, you can go to jail. This applies for any part of a Court order, not just child support.  Contempt of court is to be taken seriously.  Court orders are called orders, not suggestions.  You must follow them or pay serious consequences, which can include up to one year in jail.
  4. Family Court is not going to make you feel better. The pain of divorce and other Family Court matters is real.  Neither party will be vindicated or healed by the divorce process.  To the contrary, the pain is worsened by contested proceedings.
  5. Finality is very valuable in Family Court proceedings.
  6. If you compromise, both parties feel like they have given up way too much. In reality, you have probably simply agreed to something reasonable.  If your experienced lawyer tells you it is reasonable, it is probably reasonable.
  7. The pain and devastation of divorce clouds your judgment. The experienced lawyer will keep you on track in resolving legal issues, while realizing that your emotional state is fragile.
  8. Contested Family Court cases take “forever”. In Anderson, South Carolina, a contested divorce case takes 1-3 years to resolve, depending on the issues, the lawyers and how many days of Court are needed.  A Family Court case with an agreement can typically schedule a hearing within 30-90 days.
  9. Your lawyer is not your friend. Opposing counsel is not your enemy.  All lawyers are just doing their job:  to represent the client.
  10. Adultery is proven by “opportunity and inclination”. All that means is that you had a chance to commit adultery (by being alone or behind closed doors) and there is some tiny indication of affection between you and the alleged paramour.  Inclination could be proven with excessive text messages, a public display of minimal affection and any number of other ways.
  11. Adultery bars alimony. Period.  It does not matter how much money the other party makes.  An adulterous spouse will not get alimony in South Carolina.
  12. Issues regarding children are never final.
  13. Marriages do not fail in a vacuum. It is likely that both you and your spouse are at fault in the break up of your marriage.  The sooner you take responsibility for your own actions and inactions, the sooner you can move on with your life.
  14. Divorce and other Family Court matters are not the end of the world. Neither party will end up with everything.  Neither party will end up with nothing.  There are creative, workable solutions for every situation.  You simply must be willing to think outside the box and to follow your lawyer’s advice.


If you need assistance with a Family Court matter in Anderson, South Carolina, please contact me at mj@mjgoodwin.com

Email inquiries can typically be answered with 12-18 hours.



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