2 Things You Should Know When It Comes to Alimony

Alimony, or spousal support, is paid by one party to another after a divorce. It’s determined by the courts who will decide who gets it, how much, and for how long. What else should you know about it? Take a look at two things everyone going through a divorce should know when it comes to alimony.

#1: The Court’s Considerations

The court looks at each spouse’s financial situation and ability to earn a living when determining alimony. For example, if one spouse spent a number of years out of the workforce to care for dependent children, that is a factor in the court’s decision.

The things that are generally taken into consideration when it comes to alimony in South Carolina include:

  • The financial resources of each spouse
  • Each individual’s estate and assets
  • The ability for each individual to take care of themselves post-divorce, including the job market, job skills, and earning potential
  • The time needed to develop and learn skills or obtain an education to gain employment
  • The standard of living the couple created during the marriage

#2: Dependent Children

While spousal support and child support are separately assigned, children are a consideration by the court when deciding on alimony. If one spouse is responsible for primary care of minor children or care of a special needs or disabled child, it affects their ability to support themselves and the children. The courts in these cases would include that in the decision-making process. Alimony is part of the divorce process. Decided by the courts, many factors come into play. If you’re preparing for divorce, don’t go into it without a team to help you navigate the process. Contact the attorneys at McCutchen McLean, LLC for the experience and knowledge you need.

4 Circumstances You May Need a Business Law Attorney

business law attorney

If you own a business and you don’t have a business law attorney in your corner, you might end up regretting it. Just because you haven’t been in the position to need one yet, doesn’t mean you won’t. Take a look at four circumstances you may find yourself where you need an attorney specializing in business law.

1: Contracts

Every business must deal with contracts in some capacity, but are yours really protecting you, your business, and its assets? If you aren’t sure, you might want to speak to an attorney, so you don’t find yourself in a position of vulnerability when it comes to your contracts.

2: Taxes

Even if you have an accountant who manages your taxes, you could still find yourself liable if those taxes have inaccuracies. An accountant may not be able to help you with a legal tax issue, but an attorney can.

3: E-Commerce

Online business and e-commerce create a whole new set of legal challenges for businesses. If you aren’t in the know, you could wind up paying the price for not following state and federal laws regarding online business.

4: Intellectual Property

Anything you create, build, or design, including your products and even your brand, are your intellectual property. With access to all of your information online, it’s easier than ever for scammers to try to steal that property. Only a good attorney can help you protect yourself and your intellectual property and represent you should legal action be necessary.

Before you find yourself in any circumstances that could leave your business open to liability or exposed to legal consequences, talk to the business law attorneys who know how to protect it. Contact the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC for a consultation.

2 Things to Know About Adult and Minor Name Changes in South Carolina

There are many reasons a person might choose to change their name. It could be for religious, political, family, or personal reasons. If you’re considering changing your first or last name, you must do it legally to prevent issues going forward. Here are two things to know about both adult and minor name changes in South Carolina.

#1: Adult Name Changes

Outside of marriage or divorce, whatever the cause or inspiration, a name change requires action through the court system.

Individuals who are age 18 or older can petition the court for a legal name change. It requires:

  • A background check and fingerprinting at a law enforcement office or agency
  • Completion of a name change form
  • Completion of a Consent to Release Information form from the Social Security Administration
  • Completion of a name change petition form
  • Affidavits for conviction, child support, and alimony
  • Filing the petition
  • Attending a hearing

#2: Minor Name Changes

Individuals under the age of 18 can also petition the court for a name change, usually done by their parent or parents on their behalf. The process is similar to adult name changes but also includes the assignment of a Guardian Ad Litem to act as a liaison between the minor and the court. Adult name changes can happen outside of a courtroom, but a name change request for a minor must go before a judge.

Does all of this sound a little daunting? The process can be complex and time-consuming. To ensure it goes quickly and smoothly, without issues or complications, turn to a law firm that focuses on helping you through the name change process from start to finish. Contact the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC today to get started on the road to your new name.

4 Important Tips to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Estate

planning your estate

Estate planning is an important way to protect your assets and your loved ones after your passing. It takes great knowledge to create the documents that include the right language and cover all the bases to ensure documentation of your wishes. As you dig into planning your estate, keep these four tips in mind.

Tip #1: Outline Your Wishes

It’s critical to put in writing what you want to happen. This must include information regarding healthcare and financial powers of attorney and a living will should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.

Tip #2: Create Guardianship

If you have minor children, guardianship is essential as part of the process. It will determine who takes care of your children when you can’t.

Tip #3: Consider Creating a Trust

A trust is a place for holding your funds and a way for distribution of those funds as you lay out in your plan. It outlines who gets what and when.

Tip #4: Don’t Overlook Tax Implications

If taxes are due from your estate, there is a limited amount of time to submit them. Be sure to consider any tax implications in how you manage the assets and the potential impact on your heirs.

Estate planning requires knowledge in document preparation, and a thorough understanding of the laws surrounding wills, taxes, and probate, to name a few. Before you try to manage the process on your own, talk to McCutchen McLean, LLC for qualified estate planning that can give you peace of mind now and in the long term.

3 Advantages of Estate Planning

During your life, you have the privilege of planning for the future of your loved ones with estate planning. While it’s not something anyone likes thinking about, making sure your estate is fully accounted for before your death is vital to the ones you leave behind. Here are three advantages of estate planning that could get you moving to get it done.

#1: Providing for Your Family

Determining how your assets will provide for your family when you’re gone is the number one advantage of estate planning. You can ensure your money goes to your beneficiaries and no place else, such as the IRS, when it’s in writing in a legal document.

#2: Ensure Wealth Protection

You can prevent any challenges to asset distribution by having an estate plan in place. You can preserve your wealth by utilizing estate planning to create a trust with limited liability. A trust takes your name off of your assets and transfers them to the trust. This will protect your wealth, assets, and family.

#3: Protect Yourself

An estate plan isn’t just for use after you die. An estate plan will also determine your care and directives should you become ill or incapacitated. The plan will protect you and your assets if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

Don’t leave your family in limbo dealing with probate, legal issues, and fighting to maintain assets and care after your passing. Plan now to take care of yourself, your estate, your wealth, and your loved ones. Contact the experienced team at McCutchen McLean, LLC, to start the estate planning process.   

3 Reasons Why Establishing Paternity in South Carolina Matters

Establishing paternity is vital to all parties for many reasons. If you’ve fathered a child in South Carolina, you need to know why it’s so important to prove it’s yours. Take a look at three reasons proof matters.

#1: Legal Rights

In the state of South Carolina, the father of a child born out of wedlock must establish paternity before he has any legal rights concerning the child. These rights include visitation, custody, decision-making, including medical care, education, and religion. It also affects control over the potential adoption of the child. The mother has sole discretion regarding all of these issues, leaving the biological father with no legal recourse. Without proof of paternity, the mother has every right to terminate visitation and remove the child from their father’s life.

#2: Other Rights

In addition to legal rights, establishing paternity has enormous benefits for the child, the father, and the mother. They include:

  • Feeling of security for the child
  • Shared information on family medical histories
  • Access to inheritance, health insurance, and Social Security
  • Shared parenting responsibilities
  • Shared financial responsibilities
  • Legal rights to parent/child visitation and relationships

#3: Paternity in South Carolina

If the parents of a child are legally married, the legal assumption is that the husband is the father at the time of birth. Even if the husband is not the biological father, they automatically have legal paternity rights. If the parents are not married, the biological father has no rights until the establishment of paternity.

Don’t give up your paternal rights. Get the help you need to establish the paternity of your child by contacting the experienced attorneys at McCutchen McLean, LLC.

What is Probate Administration?

Probate administration is the process of managing the estate and assets of a deceased individual if they did not leave a will. While the probate process happens in most cases with or without a will, here’s what probate administration is and what it can mean for you and your family.

Probate Administration Without a Will

If the deceased left a will, their assets and estate management go through the process according to the instructions they left behind. If there is no will, South Carolina law determines how the estate will proceed. In either case, the majority of estates end up going through the probate process where the courts supervise the process. 

Informal Probate vs. Formal Probate

As long as the heirs and family members agree and get along, probate often moves smoothly and informally in conjunction with the court. If there are disagreements or issues with the estate and its assets, a formal probate is more likely.

Why You Need an Attorney

If the deceased has a will, the probate courts will defer to that during the distribution and settlement of the estate. If there is no will and it must go into administration, you need an attorney. Not only can they help you navigate the process, but they can also help the family members and heirs understand their options and mediate in the event of a disagreement.

If you’re facing probate administration, don’t panic or try to go it alone. Before you do anything else, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate team at McCutchen McLean, LLC.

3 Must Know Myths About Divorce & Family Law

divorce lawyer handing client pen to sign paperwork

Are you considering getting a divorce and are overwhelmed by all of the how-to articles and supplementary information on the internet? Beware of some things you read and hear, not everything is what it seems. However, the right family law attorney can bring clarity to the myths and assist you in taking the correct actions in those crucial moments.

1. Separating for a year is easy and I can get a low-cost divorce.

Sometimes. However, there are so many serious factors to consider: who stays in the home, who will pay the bills, where will the children live, what kind of visitation should the other parent have, how to divide the credit card or other debt, and how to divide retirement accounts, real estate, and other assets, for example. If you do not have a very specific agreement on all of these issues, it is very likely the court will not allow you to proceed without legal counsel.

2. My spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage. The court will punish him or her for it.

Family courts are courts of equity. This means, while the court is required to follow the written law relevant to the issues before it, the judge is also guided and authorized to decide the case in a fair and equitable way. Many times, however, the aggrieved spouse wants the court to punish the other spouse for the perceived wrong actions. The family court judge may consider wrong actions if it relates to alimony factors. The court will also consider wrong doings that affect the best interest of the children. But the court will not usually “punish” the other side for breaking up the marriage.

3. My spouse makes more money than I do so the judge will make him or her pay my attorney’s fees.

In South Carolina, a family court judge has the authority to award attorney’s fees. This includes the party who “won” or to the party who was awarded the relief they requested at court. However, while this may occur after a contested motion hearing, it usually only happens at the end of a case after a contested trial. To begin your separation or divorce correctly, you should hire an attorney. You will need to pay for the process until the end of the case; the end of the trial. If the judge awards your fees at the end of the trial, generally, you will get reimbursed only after the other side pays those court-ordered fees.

Stay tuned for more featured tips and information in the next months “Robin’s Rebuttal.” If you have questions or concerns about your personal situation, contact the team at McCutchen McLean today.

*We understand and hope that divorce is normally the last report, as it should be. I write these tips not to encourage the dissolution of a marriage, but to help you understand the separation or divorce process better. The end of a marriage can often be confusing and overwhelming. Teaching you what to expect, and working with you towards the desired resolution, is our goal.

Avoid 4 Costly Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate planning is an essential way to protect your assets after you’re gone. Not only will it determine asset division and the beneficiaries, but they also help to protect your family from disagreements, legal issues, and tax liability. As you navigate through the process, keep in mind these four costly mistakes so you can avoid them.

1: Waiting Until the “Time is Right”

Procrastination when it comes to planning for your own demise is natural. However, waiting until it’s too late will leave the future of your estate and decisions about your assets, children, property, and power of attorney in the hands of the courts. Not only could this fail to follow your wishes, but it can be an enormous burden and enormously stressful for your family.

2: Naming Your Children as Joint Owners

Your assets should not be co-owned by your children in your estate documentation. Doing so could leave them liable for any number of creditors. An estate planning attorney can guide you on how to name your children most effectively in your estate planning.

3: Failing to Update Your Documents

Many people create wills when they have children or when they get married or divorced. If you have a will or estate planning in place, but it’s from years or even decades ago, it’s time for an update. Reviewing your documents every five years or so will ensure the financial information and the beneficiaries are still accurate and still reflect your wishes.

4: Carefully Consider Your Trustee

Naming a qualified trustee is critical. Not only should the individual have the capacity to manage a trust or an estate, but they should also be able to handle any conflicts or disputes that may arise.

Estate planning takes time, experience, knowledge, and expertise. Put your trust in the capable hands of the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC.

3 Things to Know Before Filing for Divorce in SC

The decision to divorce may be one of the hardest decisions you ever make. Because of the consequences, it should never be made quickly. A divorce not only dissolves a legal relationship, but it may significantly change the entire family dynamic. However, if you believe your marriage is irretrievably broken and divorce is your best course of action, here are three things to remember before filing your lawsuit in South Carolina.

1.Grounds for Divorce

To obtain a divorce in South Carolina, you have to have “grounds” for the divorce, that is, a legal reason for the divorce. There is the “no-fault” ground, or one of the four “fault” grounds. A “no-fault” divorce refers to where the parties have lived separately, in different households, for at least one year, without reconciling at all. Even if you cannot agree on other issues such as custody or property division, for example, you can still proceed with a “no-fault” ground divorce so long as you meet the criteria above.

A fault ground for divorce means you have to prove one (or more) of the following:

  1. Adultery
  2. Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotics (prescription or over-the-counter)  when the alcohol or drug abuse negatively affects the marriage
  3. Physical  abuse or cruelty where the abuse is so severe or it “shocks the conscience”
  4. Desertion for at least one year, which means that a spouse left the marriage and cannot be found

To obtain a divorce based on a fault ground requires a higher burden of proof. You have to prove the fault ground by clear and convincing evidence. 

2. Put the Brakes on Dating!

Dating, even during a mutual separation, could have very real negative consequences. For instance, exposing your children to your romantic partners could affect whether or not you get custody of the children or it may affect your visitation with the children.

You waive any right you might have to receive alimony or support from your spouse if you commit adultery before you and your spouse have reached and signed a formal written property or marital settlement agreement, or you have obtained a permanent court order of separate maintenance and support, or a permanent court order approving a property or marital settlement agreement.

3. DIY Divorce is Harder Than it Seems

It is tempting to try to  navigate a divorce on your own to save money and time. However, a DYI divorce is only appropriate if you meet the criteria of a simple divorce. A simple divorce is one where you are getting the divorce on a “no-fault” ground; there are no children or you have reached a complete agreement on custody, child support, and visitation;  you do not own any property or have any debt, or you have completely and fairly divided the property and debt; and neither spouse is pregnant or has given birth to a child during the separation. In addition to this criterion, the court must find that your agreement is fair and reasonable to each party and it is in your children’s best interest.

Most divorces are complex, and the divorce process is often complicated by hurt feelings on either side. These cases require specific and knowledgeable legal counsel. Failing to obtain the right attorney for your matter could mean obtaining a  result that is not favorable to you or your children.

You don’t have to face this alone. For the experience you can trust and the compassion you need, contact McCutchen McLean, LLC, for guidance through every step of the divorce process.

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