Divorce is divorce. You simply file some papers and you’re done, right?

Not necessarily. Every state has its own unique requirements and limitations when it comes to divorce and child custody. South Carolina is no exception.

Before you can get divorced in South Carolina, you and your spouse must have been living separate and apart for a period of one year, unless a spouse is able to establish a fault-based ground for divorce, such as adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness (including narcotic use) or desertion.

Here are five things to keep in mind when seeking a divorce in South Carolina:

Marital property is divided “equitably” between the divorcing spouses. In the event of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to an equitable apportionment of the marital assets, which may include real estate, retirement accounts, pensions, businesses and personal property. If the spouses cannot agree on how to divide their marital property, the family court will make the decision for them.

Child custody and visitation are determined based on the child’s best interests. When divorcing parents cannot agree on who should have custody of their minor children, a court must decide based on the best interests of the children. Custody litigation is an expensive procedure and is often fraught with emotion. In fact, many divorces go smoothly until it comes to deciding custody of the children.

Child support is based on many factors. Child support can also be a sticky issue. Generally, child support is based on the South Carolina Department of Social Services Child Support Guidelines. There are several factors that are used in the calculation of child support, including the gross income of the parties, health insurance cost and the cost of childcare.

Alimony is based on financial factors. South Carolina law may allow for the court to order alimony payments – also called “spousal support” – based on the facts and circumstances of the case. The court will examine a number of factors when determining the amount of alimony – or if alimony is appropriate at all. The two biggest factors the court will consider are the disparity in income between the parties and the length of the marriage.

Divorcing spouses can settle the issues with the court’s approval. Although South Carolina law does not specifically provide for a “legal separation,” couples who wish to live apart may be able to have a marital settlement approved at the time of separation. The court may also approve a divorce settlement that resolves all issues resulting from the breakup of the marriage, including division of property, finances, child custody and visitation, child support, division of debts and alimony.

How a South Carolina Divorce Attorney Can Help

If you are getting divorced in South Carolina, even if your spouse agrees, there are still many issues to sort through. The bottom line is that you never know when tempers could flare or complications arise. Make sure your rights and the rights of your children are protected by hiring a capable and experienced divorce lawyer.

An experienced family law attorney’s goals when representing a client is to make sure that your assets are properly protected. You should not stand to lose what you have worked for your whole life and is rightfully yours. It is not easy to be put into a position of opposition with your spouse, but these differences of opinion can be resolved with experienced legal guidance and effective communication.

Achieving a fair and equitable resolution can be done without going to court. However, in situations where communications break down, it’s important to know that your lawyer is ready, willing and able to take your case to the next level.