One of the most common questions divorcing couples ask surrounds the division of property. Every state is different when it comes to dividing property, but the process to assess value to the property is practically the same no matter where you live. South Carolina is an equitable division state when it comes to dividing marital property. This means that the courts will not separate the property down the middle for each spouse. Instead, the court will determine a fair and equitable division of the property.
Many couples are able to go through an uncontested divorce because they know what’s at stake and what they both want from the divorce. When couples cannot agree to terms on property division, child custody, alimony, or other important topics, a contested divorce can drag on for more than a year.
What considerations are taken by the court in dividing property?
When the time comes for the court to divide marital property, the following will be taken into consideration:
- The length of the marriage
- The ages of both spouses
- The mental and physical health of both spouses
- The capacity and skills of both spouses to earn a living
- The ability to acquire assets and earn an income of both spouses in the future
- The financial liabilities of both spouses
- The needs of both spouses
- The contributions made by both spouses in regard to acquiring income and assets or being a homemaker during the marriage
- Tax implications
- Any other consideration deemed appropriate by the court
The court cannot review these considerations or begin the property division process until all of the marital property has been assessed for the proper value. All marital property must be assessed and assigned a value, including the following:
- Primary and vacation homes
- Vehicles, boats, aircraft, and other vehicles
- Artwork and other collections
- Financial and retirement accounts
How is debt divided in a South Carolina divorce?
Debt will be handled the same way property is when dividing it during a divorce in South Carolina. This means that the court will determine how to split the debt fairly and equitably between the two spouses.
Prior to dividing the debt, the court will need to determine if the debt is marital or individual debt, how the debt was acquired, and who acquired the debt. These factors will play a large role in how much debt either spouse could be responsible for once the divorce is finalized by the court.
Since debt may not be split 50/50, it’s important to note that one spouse could end up with significantly more debt than the other. For example, if one spouse acquired a lot of debt because of gambling or other poor financial habits, that spouse could be responsible for all of that debt. Or, if one spouse has a very low-paying job, he or she might be responsible for markedly less debt than the other spouse.
How the value of a home is assessed in Fort Mill and Rock Hill
The process of assessing the value of a home is the same for a divorce as it is when you decide to put your home on the market. A comparative market analysis (CMA) will be conducted by a real estate agent or real estate appraiser.
A CMA will include all of the following before assessing the value of the home:
- Sale prices of the homes most recently sold in your neighborhood
- Listing prices of homes from your neighborhood currently on the market
- Upgrades made to your home (new roof, new windows and doors, switching from oil to gas, new siding, a new alarm system, etc.)
- Special features other homes near you don’t have (pool, wine cellar, vehicle lifts, climate-controlled storage, etc.)
The appraiser will also look at the appreciation or depreciation in value from the time the home was first purchased. If one spouse owned the home prior to the marriage, this will play a role in how the home is awarded in the divorce. If both spouses bought the home once married, the value of the home will need to be divided fairly and equitably by the court.
After a value has been assessed to the home you have three options: sell the home and split the proceeds, buy out the other spouse, or remain as co-owners of the home and share the bills and utilities. If you or your spouse decides to buy the other out, it may require refinancing of the mortgage.
How is personal property assessed value in a Fort Mill divorce?
Personal property can be assessed in one of three ways by an appraiser:
- Cost. The appraiser will assign value to your items based on how much they cost to replace right now.
- Market comparison. The appraiser will review comparable sales prices of your items from the last 30 days (this is best for vehicles, wine, sports memorabilia, and artwork).
- Revenue. The appraiser will assign a value to items purchased as an investment, with the future value of the item being more important than the current value.
How is a business assessed value in a Rock Hill divorce?
If there is a business present in your divorce it could cause the process to last for more than one year, even if only one spouse owned the business. If the spouse only owned a portion of a business, the value of that portion can be included in the division of property during the divorce.
A certified forensic account will be tasked with valuing a business by looking at the following:
- The valuation date
- Assets and debts
- Increased value
Making the decision to file for divorce is not one that should be done on a whim. It takes time and a lot of thought to move your life in this direction. When you are ready to file, an experienced divorce attorney from at Holland Law, LLC can assist with the process. Call our office at 803-219-2630, or complete a contact form on our website to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Fort Mill and Rock Hill where we serve clients from York, Chester, and Lancaster Counties.
Tom Holland previously served as the General Counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is a single father, and through his own divorce gained valuable insight he now uses to provide Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC families with the best representation. Learn more about Tom Holland.