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Family Law Attorney Columbia, SC

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Family Law | Divorce Attorney Columbia, SC

Burriss & Ridgeway has over twenty years of experience in handling all types of domestic cases in the Family Courts of South Carolina. Through this experience we have learned that the most important thing we can do as your attorney is listen. We have been told by our clients that what sets us apart from other attorneys is that we truly listen to them. When you contact Burriss & Ridgeway concerning a Family Court matter, we will schedule a face to face consultation with you to discuss all of the issues of your case. We will listen to your concerns and find out your goals. We will then explain to you the process, how the law of South Carolina applies to your case, all likely outcomes and the cost-benefit of fighting over certain issues. We believe our experience gives us the ability to help our clients define realistic goals and help them achieve those goals without spending needless amounts of money. We will explain to you the projected costs of your legal matter, the expected length of time to resolve it and the ends and outs of the process. In this consultation, you will have a clear direction and understanding of where you need to go. If you decide to move forward with Burriss & Ridgeway, we will promptly begin working on your case and keep you informed along the way.

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Burriss & Ridgeway has seen it all in the Family Courts of South Carolina. Nothing will surprise or intimidate. We are experienced and have handled cases that have dealt with the following issues:

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Divorce – What You Need To Know

You Should:

Consult An Attorney

Several times a month we meet with people who have attempted to handle on their own a divorce or deal with issues involving assets or children and now regret the outcome. Each time the answer is the same. There is not much you can do after the fact to alter or change an Agreement or Order created on your own without the help of an attorney. After an Order or Agreement is entered into the standards to change or alter that Agreement or Order increase dramatically. Courts will not modify an Agreement or an Order as it relates to children unless you can show a substantial and material change in circumstances. When it comes to assets, once an Agreement or Order is finalized, you cannot come back later and change the terms. You are stuck with what you created. Consulting an attorney on the front end will save you a lot of money and heart ache on the back-end.

When looking for an attorney, you should ask people you trust for recommendations. Don’t cut corners when it comes to good, solid legal help. It can cost you in the end. If you intend to hire an attorney, start putting aside money for your legal costs, so you can pay the upfront retainer fee often required. The attorney’s hourly rate is billed against the retainer.

Make Copies

Photocopy every important, relevant document from the last three years of your marriage. This includes tax returns, mortgage payments, bank statements, pay stubs, stock certificates and bonds – to supply to your attorney or mediator. This will help create a snapshot of your finances as the process begins, in case documents begins to disappear, which often happens.

Take Steps To Eliminate Damaging Credit Problems

Cancel joint credit cards. If your credit card accounts are in both you and your spouse’s names, and they remain open, you are still responsible for any charges made by your spouse. If charges go unpaid, they can end up on your credit report. Get credit cards and accounts in your own name to build your own credit.

Make Sure You’re Covered By Insurance

Medical insurance coverage can end in divorce. If you are on your spouse’s insurance plan, you should be able to continue coverage for up to 36 months under the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Under this plan you pay the premiums, which may be expensive, but it’s better than no coverage at all until you are able to shop around and find reasonable coverage for yourself.

Make A Home And Asset Inventory

This will better clarify what exactly needs to be divided. Write down everything you know about your assets and debts, and record the persons who can be witnesses. It’s good for people to compile lists. You can’t bring your lawyer too much information. Also consider taking pictures or videos of your home and contents and making copies of family photographs you want to keep. Digital pictures are the easiest and most economical to compile and can easily be emailed to your attorney. Take an inventory of any items stored in a safe or safe deposit box with a bank. It is also a good idea to take photographs of these items. Often times these items will go missing and it is hard to prove they ever existed unless there is an inventory and/or photographs.

Think About Tax Consequences

For instance, if a stock is valued at $3,000, it may only be worth $2,600 in cash after capital gains taxes are paid. Thus, it would not be the same as receiving $3,000 cash in a divorce settlement. Consider the costs of converting assets into fast cash for the parties in dividing assets equitably. If one party will have to pay taxes, request enough of the asset to cover the tax as well. At Burriss & Ridgeway we can work closely with your Accountant or help you find and accountant who will help you avoid any costly tax consequences of an asset division.

Choose Your Assets Carefully

When staking a claim in assets, remember that choosing the wrong assets may end up costing you money, instead of making you money. If you want to keep the house, for instance, first educate yourself about the fair market value of your home. You can also look up the county appraisal amount listed for your home. This should not be considered your fair market amount if considering a sell, but it will at least give you an idea of its value. Remember that you’ll have to make the mortgage payments and pay taxes, interest, insurance, utilities and maintenance extras. Selling it won’t be a picnic, either: The brokerage costs and taxes from the sale will be solely your responsibility. If you cannot determine the value of real or personal property, Burriss & Ridgeway will help you and can engage the services of professional appraisers to help determine the true value of these assets and even testify in Court if need be.

Line Up Your Own Emotional Support

Choose friends or family members you can trust, because you never know who may end up turning on you or even testifying against you later. Consulting with a counselor can keep you thinking clearly in order to focus on your divorce plan. If you anticipate a child custody fight, you may want to take your child to a therapist before it starts.

Consider Hiring A Private Investigator

Hiring a private investigator to document your spouse’s activities prior to filing for divorce can be a game changer for you in a divorce. In South Carolina, adultery is an absolute bar to alimony. This means that if you can prove your spouse is committing adultery, he or she will not be able to obtain alimony based on this conduct. Additionally, documenting your spouse’s behavior or involvement with the children can be a critical piece of evidence in a custody battle with your spouse. At Burriss & Ridgeway, we can connect you with reputable private investigators who can help build this critical evidence in your case and who have a good reputation in the Family Courts of South Carolina.

You Should Not:

  • Skimp on legal help.
  • Just move out of your home, unless you fear physical harm. Talk to your lawyer to discuss your options before you make your move.
  • Try to do it all. Some cases do need experts like accountants, appraisers, etc. Thinking you can do these things on your own can be fatal to your case.
  • Share a lawyer with your spouse. This scenario presents a huge conflict of interest. Most lawyers won’t do it, and it could border on legal malpractice.
  • Make revenge the goal of the divorce. The Family Courts are not set up for you to exact revenge. If this is your main goal, you will be sorely disappointed at the end of your case.
  • Compare your divorce to the divorce of a friend or family. Each case has its own set of facts, with its own personality.
  • Bad-mouth your spouse to your children. It can backfire on you in ways you don’t expect. Additionally, the only people that are really permanently affected by this are your children.
  • Act without thinking. You must consider the impact your actions can have in a case. For example, don’t write a letter you would mind being read in a courtroom.
  • Post anything on a social networking site or the internet. This can be a huge mistake in a custody or asset dispute.

A divorce will affect you legally, financially and emotionally. Although deciding to divorce isn’t easy, taking the time to incorporate these do’s and don’ts can make the process — and its financial and emotional consequences — as uncomplicated as possible.


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