When a couple decides to call it quits, one of the most important (and usually contentious) subjects they will have to address is the division of marital property. Oftentimes, money is a major trigger of most divorce cases. As such, it is not uncommon for the divorcing couple to fail to reach a consensus on how the marital property will be divided.
To help address this subject, however, it is important that you start by answering two questions: What is marital property, and what are South Carolina’s marital property laws?
Defining marital property
Only marital property can be put up for division during the divorce. However, most couples fail to agree on property division because they cannot be on the same page regarding what is marital property and what is not.
Basically, marital property refers to any asset (and debt) accumulated while in the marriage even when the property in question is not in both parties’ names. For instance, if one spouse has a car in their name only, that vehicle will be considered marital property during the divorce. Likewise, if one party took out a credit card, then the accumulated credit card debt can be treated as marital debt. (Some acquisitions, such as inheritance and gifts, may not belong to the marital estate.)
Dividing marital property in a South Carolina divorce
South Carolina applies what is known as an equitable distribution when sharing marital property. This means that the court will take into account a number of factors before determining what it believes to be a fair and equitable division of marital property. Some of these factors include:
- Each party’s contribution
- The duration of the marriage
- Each party’s health status
- Each party’s current income as well as future income potential
- The value of the marital property
Protecting your rights during property division
No, you may not walk out of the marriage with 50 percent of the marital property. However, knowing your legal options can help you safeguard your rights and interests and get a fair and equitable share of your marital property.