CHARLESTON CONTESTED DIVORCE ATTORNEY JAY MCMILLIAN
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A CONTESTED DIVORCE?
Though it is preferable for all parties involved in a divorce to seek a resolution to all the issues germane to the divorce and go forward in an uncontested matter, the reality is that most divorces that enter the Family Court system in South Carolina are contested. Maybe the parties can't agree on child custody, or the division of property, or whether spousal support should be paid.
A contested divorce action in South Carolina is a divorce that:
- Can be based on any of the 5 legally recognized grounds for divorce in South Carolina; and
- Has at least one issue incident to the divorce (grounds, child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property division) that has not been settled and must be ruled upon by a Family Court Judge.
WHAT STEPS ARE INVOLVED IN A CONTESTED DIVORCE?
Like all divorces, a contested divorce will start with the filing of a summons and complaint by one party and most likely an answer / response by the other party.
The complexity of contested divorces begins at this point. Since the parties have not resolved all issues incident to the divorce, the attorneys on both sides will probably initiate discovery through interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and possibly even depositions depending on the number of disputed issues. During this time, most family law attorneys will keep back channels open between themselves and the clients in pursuing settlement prior to trial.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET A FINAL DIVORCE IN A CONTESTED CASE?
The only absolute answer to this question is that it will take longer than an uncontested divorce. If it is a matter of property division, its going to take time to pull together a comprehensive list of marital assets that can be reviewed by the Family Court Judge at trial. If child custody is contested, it is going to take time for the Guardian Ad Litem to conduct interviews and perform home visits and report back to the Family Court. At this point, you can only begin to imagine the time that would be needed if there are several contested issues involved with the divorce. In my experience, contested divorces take anywhere from a year to 18 months to fully move through the Family Court system in South Carolina.
HOW ARE ATTORNEY FEES CALCULATED FOR MY CONTESTED DIVORCE?
Unlike an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce is billed hourly. The client is charged by the amount of time spent working on the case at a set hourly rate.
There are generally two basic components to the fee structure for a contested divorce. First of all, there is the down payment / retainer fee that is charged at the initiation of the representation. This is usually an amount that at the very least will cover all time and expenses that must be covered to get the divorce to trial in front of the Family Court. Secondly, there is the monthly invoicing. If the time required to litigate the divorce exhaust all the funds paid in the down payment, then the client is billed at the hourly rate for the time spent litigating the matter on a monthly basis.
During the consultation, I will spend the necessary time needed to determine the complexity of the case and do my best to determine the appropriate retainer needed to initiate the representation, but also discuss all payment options (credit cards are accepted) and payment arrangements so that you can get the legal counsel that you need.
Whether you live in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, West Ashley, Summerville, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, James Island, Johns Island, Walterboro, Beaufort, or any of the other wonderful communities of the South Carolina Low Country, call me at The McMillian Law Firm for your free consultation today!