State News

Divorce, The Money Maker

In the State of South Carolina Divorce is pretty good business. Lawyers who practice Domestic Relations Law or Family Court make a lot of money from cases that end a Marriage.

According to data published by Martindale-Nolo Research, obtaining a divorce in South Carolina typically costs between $4000 and $28,000, with the average attorney fees running into the tens of thousands of dollars. The report also indicated that the average cost of an uncontested divorce in South Carolina is $12,600. This does not even take into account the thousands of dollars made by Attorney Guardian ad Litems who are appointed to cases.

Individuals who have chosen to end their marriage only have a few options in South Carolina. These options are called fault grounds for divorce. These grounds are Physical Cruelty, Adultery (which is still a criminal charge in South Carolina), Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Use, and Desertion for more than one year. These reasons may also be used to argue against the award of alimony in such cases.

According to in 2018 every 2.5% of 1000 people in South Carolina are divorced. Let’s make the numbers a bit easier to understand that means that nearly 130,000 people got divorced in 2018 in South Carolina.

So just using the cost of uncontested divorces in South Carolina the amount earned by attorneys was well within the range of $1,638,000,000 for divorces in 2018. The costs of contested divorces in 2018 were nearly double or triple that amount. Divorce is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, which many Lawyers love. Let me also note at this point that these numbers do not include any Child Custody cases that generally are more costly.

We all have heard the term “It’s cheaper to keep them”, well this isn’t just an old saying it seems to be the truth, and this goes for both sides. The South Carolina Legislative Body has stated: The State of South Carolina has a vested interest in keeping marriages alive, this statement can be found in Legislature for the State. But yet the General Assembly of South Carolina has made it easy for couples to get a divorce at such high costs over the years.

One could not get a divorce in the State of South Carolina before 1948. Back then there weren’t as many Attorneys practicing anything such as Domestic Relations Law. Some argue that today’s society has simply become a throwaway society. We throw everything from the kitchen sink to our relationships away with ease these days. And there are plenty of Attorneys willing to take your money to help you. And unlike what we see in shows like Law and Order these Family Courts run differently.

Family Courts use what is called “The Preponderance of Evidence Rule”, which comes down to not needing any actual proof. This allows attorneys to earn the big bucks by simply stating allegations against the other party using words as evidence. Now the number one allegation used in Family Courts is Physical Cruelty, this simply breaks down to physical abuse (which S.C. ranks 5th in the Nation for). An attorney will use words and perhaps very vague evidence such as pictures or video recordings of bruises and arguments to paint the other side as a monster. While the Defendant has the burden of attempting to prove his innocents with again nothing but words.

(As this writer researched this part of the article I did find it very interesting that in nearly none of the hundreds of cases of alleged abuse did the Family Court Judge ever refer these matters to a Criminal Court for Domestic Violence or Abuse.)

Most Attorneys tell their clients to end all contact with their spouse, which prevents any communication and also prevents any possibility of reconciliation between the couple. Lawyers begin a battle of paperwork between the Courts and each other by demanding copies of wages, bank accounts, etc…

This naturally causes the animosity between the couples to rise, feeling the other side simply is money hungry. And you’re getting billed for every minute the attorney is on your case, including filing fees, phone calls, emails, and research. It’s commonly known that most divorce actions are settled and never even go to trial.

So why are divorces so expensive? For that answer, we have to look at how long the average divorce in South Carolina takes, which is 1 Year. A couple must be living separate and apart for 1 year before getting a divorce. The one-year requirement was to give the couple the opportunity for reconciliation, which most lawyers advise against, as this would cut into their bottom line.

The General Assembly of South Carolina has made no real changes to the laws governing Domestic Relations since 1976. Even though our society has changed by leaps and bounds. Today we have more stay at home fathers, we have more married women in the workforce, and we also have more lawyers in the State House.

Lawyers who are Family Court Attorneys and are also Legislators have made a killing by blocking bills that would seek Marriage Counseling requirements before a divorce. And Shared Parenting Bills such as H3295 sponsored by House Representative Jason Elliott, which would require a Judge to order equal custody to guarantee a child maintains both parents in their life equally, cutting back on custody litigations. H3295 would also require factual evidence to be used when attempting to get custody on a fault ground divorce, making the lawyers work for their money.

Lawyers do not want to change anything to benefit couples and to have laws passed that may keep couples together. When you’re making $1,638,000,000 a year off of the destruction of a marriage or family. But there is hope for South Carolina yet! A hand full of Legislators such as Johnathon Hill and citizens from grassroots organizations have begun to fight against the outdated system. 12 Legislators are sponsoring H3295 for our children and families.

No one should have to pay a high financial cost for a part of their life ending in such turmoil, when there are possibilities of preventing it. South Carolina has become known for its divorces and their costs. Places in the State with the highest divorce rates are Union with a rate of 12% of their population of 7878. Abbeville with a rate of 11% of its population of 5079. Walterboro with a rate of 10% of its population of 5503. Batesburg-Leesville rate of 10% of its population of 5424. And Camden population of 7,060 and a rate of 9%.

So to conclude this article let me say this: The only ones who seem to profit from a divorce are the lawyers. The Spouses and their children and extended families all lose. Spouse’s credit and cash are now destroyed; children are prevented from seeing their parents and extended family. All while the lawyer is on vacation in Hawaii.

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