4 Types of Child Custody In South Carolina

child custody and visitation

Divorces or breakups can be contentious, especially when you have children, as child custody is often the most challenging part. South Carolina Family Court Judges consider the child’s best interest when ordering custody, including their education, development, physical and emotional well-being, and safety. Generally, there are several types of custody arrangements to consider when discussing child custody with the other parent.  

#1: Sole Custody:

Sole custody means that the custodian makes all decisions concerning the child without the necessity of consulting with the other parent, or even telling the other parent about the decisions before they are made. Because there is no “joint raising” of the children under a sole custody provision, these types of custody orders are not generally favored if both parents are fit, have a history of being involved with the children, and able to care for the children.

The sole custodian has both legal and physical custody of the children. Legal custody means the ability to make all decisions for the minor child, such as education, religion, healthcare, appearance, extra-curricular activities, etc. Physical custody means the place where the children reside most of the time.

#2: Joint Custody

At this time, joint custody is the type of custody most ordered by our family courts, as it allows both fit parents input into the major decisions touching upon the minor children. In most joint custody orders, there will be a designated “primary custodian” and sometimes a “secondary custodian”. Usually, the primary custodian is the parent/person with whom the children reside most of the time (physical custodian). The primary custodian is required to consult and confer with the other parent about major issues concerning the children (legal custodian issues), prior to making a final decision. However, if the parents cannot agree, the primary custodian is allowed to make the final decision.

#3: Shared Custody

Shared custody generally refers to an arrangement where custodians have equal or almost equal parenting time with the children. It may be appropriate in situations where both parents have actively raised and nurtured the children prior to the parents’ split; or where the parents live close enough not to disrupt school or other schedules, and the parents have a cordial relationship conducive to amicable co-parenting. Many times, there is still a designated primary custodian for the sole purpose of final decisions if the parents cannot agree on a course of action for a child after truly discussing their respective point of views on the matter. However, some shared custody arrangements do not designate a primary decision-maker. Parents who opt for this type of arrangement should do so cautiously, as failure to plan for final decisions could result in both parents taking equal but opposite positions. This often results in conflict between the parents and confusion for the children.

#4:  Split Custody

Split custody refers to the situation where one parent has primary physical and legal custody of one or more children, and the other parent has primary physical and legal custody of the remaining child or children. Here, the siblings are split between the parents. This appears to be the least favored option as it means the siblings do not generally share the same household most of the time. It may be appropriate in situations where there is a large age gap between siblings or when a child poses a threat to the siblings and/or requires extra care.

Your custody arrangement will also determine the type and amount of child support owed.

Because child custody decisions can have far-reaching effects on the children and the parents, it is always wise to seek experienced legal counsel first. The attorneys at McCutchen McLean, LLC are able to assist you in making the appropriate custody decisions for your particular needs and situation.

3 Steps to Getting Started with Estate Planning In 2022

estate planning steps

No one wants to think about what will become of their assets and belongings when they’re gone, but estate planning can preserve your legacy and care for your family. Unfortunately, some people make the mistake of thinking only the uber-wealthy need estate planning. The truth is that anyone who has any financial assets, owns a home, or has a family that relies on them should make plans for when they’re gone. If you’ve been dragging your feet about estate planning, 2022 should be the year to get it done. These three steps can get you started.

Step #1: Take Inventory

The first step to estate planning is to take inventory of not just your investments but all of your assets, both tangible and intangible. What this means is taking stock of everything from property and real estate to cars and other vehicles, collecting all of the information on your savings accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies, and determining the estimated value of each of them.

Step #2: Determine Your Family’s Needs, Now and Later

The best way to protect your family when you’re gone is by understanding their needs. There are considerations such as whether you’re married, have children and how many, what lifestyle they’re accustomed to and would like to maintain, and whether you have life insurance. All of these will factor into how you take care of your family with your planning. 

Step #3: Hire an Estate Planning Professional

One of the most important steps in estate planning is finding a professional who can help you through the process. Understanding the complexities of planning along with taxes and laws relating to estate planning in each state is critical to making sure your wishes get carried out as you want them to be. Contact McCutchen McLean, LLC for a knowledgeable and experienced guide through the process.

What Does Your Social Media Say About You in a Custody Case?

social media effects on custody cases

With most adults having profiles on at least one, and usually multiple, social media accounts, the likelihood of them remaining purely “social” is slim when you are involved in a lawsuit. This is especially true if you find yourself in a family court legal dispute, including a custody case. Here’s what you need to know about what your social media says about you when you go to court.

Are Social Media Posts Admissible in Court?

A big question is whether or not social media posts are admissible in court. The answer is yes. Though judges will generally try to arrange custody that includes both parents, that can change dramatically when one parent is unfit, or alienates a child, or fails to co-parent amicably. Social media posts can serve as a roadmap to show the court that the posting parent has negative qualities that impact their ability to properly parent a child.

Can You Use Social Media to Your Advantage?

Yes. While social media can work against you in your custody battle, it can also work in your favor. Some parents may leverage their accounts and posts to seek a favorable outcome at trial if their posts reveal they are able and willing to co-parent and refrain from activities that may tend to show them in a bad light.

Do’s And Don’ts

  • Do – Timely advise your attorney of any possible negative or harmful content in your social media history.
  • Do – Be mindful that anything you post or have posted may be provided to the other party through the discovery process, and then may be used against you at a trial.
  • Don’t – Post on your social media accounts during your custody case, as a general rule. It is especially important not to post negative things about your sprouse, your child’s other parent, or your case at all.
  • Don’t – Delete your posts or post history without discussing the matter with your attorney. Deleting posts could make you look like you are hiding things, and the post may be tretrievable anyway. Talk to your family court lawyer about the best way to handle prior negative or unflattering posts.

Custody cases can be reasonably amicable, or they can get downright dirty. Your prior social media history could very well impact your case. To give you the best chance to come out on top, keep your social media out of the custody fray. And get a reliable legal team on your side. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at McCutchen and McLean LLC for the guidance and support you need for your custody case.

Everything You Need to Know About Trusts

facts about trusts

Are you familiar with trusts and what they can offer your family and loved ones? Unfortunately, many people only consider a will and don’t spend time on asset management with specific timelines and distribution instructions. We’re here to help with everything you need to know about trusts.

What is a Trust?

A trust is an arrangement through the legal system that creates a fiduciary responsibility where a trustee manages an individual’s assets to benefit the individual’s beneficiaries. In other words, a trust is an agreement that spells out how a person wants their assets distributed, when, and to whom.

What are the Benefits of a Trust?

There are different types of trusts, but they share many of the same benefits. These include:

  • Avoiding probate so beneficiaries can receive assets without waiting for the court process, and fees
  • Potential to avoid taxes if set up as an irrevocable trust
  • Wealth control on your terms to designate beneficiaries and timelines for your asset distribution
  • Protecting your heirs from creditors
  • Protecting your estate from mismanagement
  • Privacy for your records instead of public record as with probate

How a Lawyer Can Help with Trust Administration

A trust requires an administrator. It’s tempting to assign a family member or close friend, however, it’s advisable to find an objective third party. In most cases, an attorney is the best choice to help the trustee implement the plan.

If trusts still seem confusing or you’re unsure where to turn for more information, go to a reliable source. Contact the legal team at McCutchen McLean, LLC to find out more about trusts and how they can help you plan for the future of your estate.

Does Mediation Really Work in a Contested Family Court Case?

Mediation is a common way to work through issues in contested family court cases. It’s a way to resolve disputes without going to court. But is it really effective? If you live in South Carolina, there are some things to know about mediation.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a unique tool designed to assist parties in a contested family court case to work together to reach a mutual resolution regarding custody, financial issues, property issues, and parenting plans, for example. The mediator works with the parties to identify issues, assist with communication during the process, and attempts to help parties formulate a settlement agreement.

Is Mediation Required?

Yes. In South Carolina, mediation is mandatory for contested family court cases. Absent a court order to the contrary, parties must participate in mediation before the court will allow a contested final hearing to be scheduled. The South Carolina Supreme Court commissioned a study to determine the efficacy of mediation in contested family court cases, and the impact on clearing up our clogged family court rosters. It was determined that mediation can be very successful, and it has helped resolve some of the family court case backlog.

What Happens at Mediation?

The goal of mediation is to assist the parties in resolving their contested issues. A third-party neutral, that is, someone with mediation experience who is not biased toward either party, will speak to each party, usually separately, to ascertain the core contested issues and to help each party come up with solutions that may resolve the issues. A good mediator does not impose their own will on the parties, but rather, helps the parties try to think of creative solutions to their problems.

In South Carolina, parties are required to mediate for at least three hours, however, only the mediator may end the mediation when he or she believes there is an impasse, which is when the parties have reached a point that neither is willing to compromise any further, and continued negotiations would be futile. 

Except in very rare circumstances, what is said at mediation, and documents produced for mediation, are private, and cannot be disclosed at the contested trial. The reason for this rule is to allow people to speak freely, negotiate, and offer solutions, without fear that it will hurt them later at trial.

Do I Need an Attorney for Mediation?

Legally, you don’t have to have an attorney represent you during the mediation process. However, as with all contested family court matters, it is strongly recommended you have a knowledgeable attorney assist you in preparing for mediation and guiding the mediation negotiations in a way that is fair for you and your family. An experienced attorney can ensure that you completely understand the settlement offers, options to continue negotiations, and the legal and practical consequences of any issue you agree to resolve.

No matter what family court case you’re facing, it’s vital to have representation you can trust to protect you through the process. For help with anything related to family law, including divorce, custody, financial agreements, parenting plans, and more, contact the experienced legal team at McCutchen McLean, LLC.

What Happens to My Retirement if I Don’t Have a Will?

Do you and your loved one have a will? Do you know what happens to a retirement account if you don’t? Having a retirement account is critical to supporting yourself when it’s time to withdraw from the working world. It tends to be one of the largest assets by the time of retirement. However, should the unthinkable happen, and you or your loved one dies with a large sum left in the account, it’s good to know what happens to that money, especially if you don’t have a will. Here’s what you need to know.

With a Beneficiary

If someone has an IRA or a 401(k), they most likely named a beneficiary for those accounts. Should the account holder die before the beneficiary does, with money left in those retirement accounts, that money will go to the named recipient.

Without a Beneficiary

If you or a family member dies after the named beneficiary or dies without one named, the funds in those retirement accounts transfer to the deceased’s estate. Once the probate process is complete, distribution of funds to the heirs named in the will can take place.

Without a Will

When someone dies without a will, it’s called intestate. If this happens, the courts step in to manage the estate of the deceased in a process called probate. A judge will assign a representative to manage the estate during probate, including the assets, accounts, and belongings left behind. With direction from the court, that representative is responsible for the distribution of those assets and accounts to the living heirs.

If your loved one passes away without a will, you don’t have to go through the overwhelming probate process alone. It’s vital to have an attorney represent you and your interests during what can be a very emotional and stressful time. Reach out to the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC for the professional legal support you need.

What Factors Will the IRS Evaluate When Approving or Rejecting an Offer in Compromise?

Is an Offer in Compromise the next step for you financially? Are you ready to get out from under your debilitating tax? If you feel paralyzed by tax debt, it might be time to consider an Offer in Compromise, which allows you to settle that debt for a portion of the total amount you owe the IRS. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Offer in Compromise?

An OIC, or Offer in Compromise, is a tax repayment plan offered by the IRS. It’s an opportunity for the IRS to forgive a portion of the tax debt to allow for repayment by the taxpayer, who then pays the balance. The goal is a settlement that benefits both the taxpayer and the tax collector.

IRS Considerations

There are certain standards the IRS considers that could qualify you for this repayment plan. Here are the factors they evaluate when approving or rejecting an offer in compromise:

  • The taxpayer has exhausted their other options for paying the taxes owed
  • The taxpayer cannot have a history of filing for bankruptcy
  • The IRS isn’t confident they can collect the tax debt in its entirety from the individual or business
  • Any involved party doubts the accuracy of the amount of taxes owed to the IRS
  • It allows the IRS to provide more effective tax administration to the individual or business

If your tax debt has taken over your life and sense of security, there are options to help you get straight with the IRS while also recovering financially. However, it’s a good idea to have someone knowledgeable on your side when you work toward acquiring an Offer in Compromise. The lawyers at McCutchen McLean, LLC are the professionals you’ve been looking for. Contact them today to learn about your options.

McCutchen McLean: Nominated for Best Family Law Attorney in the Best of Lexington Life Competition

McCutchen McLean is proud to serve the Lexington community by providing legal representation in family, estate, tax, and business law. We strive to be the best, and we think the community agrees. We’re thrilled about our nomination for Best Family Law Attorney in the Best of Lexington Life Competition! Here’s what that means to us, and to you.

Lexington Life Magazine

In publication since 2004, Lexington Life focuses on the schools, businesses, churches, and civic groups in the area that make a difference and impact life in Lexington. It’s a family-owned business whose primary focus is direct mail advertising that provides a valuable service to the community. With a readership of over 50,000, it is chock full of information that makes living, shopping, and working in Lexington better.

McCutchen and McLean, LLC

Owned and operated by Robin McLean and James McCutchen, this Lexington law firm provides legal services in family law, elder law, estate planning, probate cases, tax law, and business and corporate law. Started in 2018 in the heart of the community, McCutchen McLean strives to provide knowledgeable, experienced, compassionate assistance to the people of Lexington and the South Carolina region.

Best of Lexington Life

Nominees for Best of Lexington Life come from Chamber Shareholders, and the readers and community members vote to determine the winners each year. They recognize the nominees for working to make Lexington a better place to work, live, and play.

It’s our honor to be a nominee and we feel privileged to serve the people of our community. Contact the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC, for help with your legal needs.

Should I Hire an Attorney for Alimony Modifications?

Alimony modifications are something that a divorcee can petition for when life circumstances change. Just because a judge sets alimony at the time of divorce doesn’t mean it has to stay the same forever. However, the order to modify payments must come from the court. But should you hire an attorney for any changes to spousal support? The answer is yes. Read on to find out why.

Reasons for Alimony Modification

Whether you’re seeking to increase support from your former spouse or are asking to have payments to your former spouse reduced, here are some acceptable reasons for modification:

  • Issues that make it impossible for you to work or to earn enough money for living expenses
  • Extended unemployment
  • Change in income such as a significant increase or decrease in pay
  • Inheritance
  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Fraud

While some of these are easy to prove, some are more difficult. Presenting them to the court to give you the advantage will help you get the results you want. The changes generally need to be substantial for a judge to consider them.

Knowledge of Alimony Laws

Alimony laws vary, and it’s critical to understand what you can and cannot do when it comes to spousal support. With something as critical as your finances, and you need an attorney that can help you build a strong case.

Representing yourself in any legal issue can be risky at best, including cases related to alimony modification. But whatever side of the request you’re on, you can rely on the knowledgeable team at McCutchen McLean, LLC. Contact them today to find out how they can help you get the optimal outcome.

When is Guardianship and Conservatorship Appropriate in South Carolina?

Guardianships and conservatorships are often complicated and confusing and can feel especially overwhelming when deciding what you and your loved one needs. Take a look at the difference between them and when each is appropriate in South Carolina.

What is a Guardianship?

A guardian in South Carolina focuses on handling specific things for someone who cannot make decisions and handle matters on their own. Whether due to injury, illness, disability, age, or another issue, an incapacitated adult needs help handling things such as where they will live, who will care for them and how, healthcare decisions, and mental health concerns.

What is a Conservator?

A conservator acts similarly to a guardian, however, instead of handling an incapacitated adult’s personal needs, they focus on their financial affairs. Their job is to protect the individual’s assets during the time they cannot manage them or make decisions about them. A bond issued by the court holds conservators accountable for any actions they take on behalf of the estate.

Which One is Appropriate?

In South Carolina, the courts appoint both guardians and conservators. It’s their job to determine what’s appropriate based on the individual’s needs who are no longer able to care for their own affairs and their family. 

If someone you love is in crisis and cannot manage their own personal, healthcare, living, and financial decisions, you need a reliable attorney to help you through the process. Their knowledge can ensure the right protective measures for your loved one so you can rest easy knowing they are safe and well cared for. In addition, you need someone with extensive experience with guardianships and conservatorships who can help you navigate through the process. Contact McCutchen McLean, LLC today for the team of attorneys you can count on.

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I recently had a tax issue with the IRS. I called McCutchen McClean law firm and they were able to fit me in quickly. They sat down with me, reviewed all the documents, listened to my concerns, and gave me wonderful advice as to how to fix the issue. They were friendly and understanding. Now, my tax issue is resolved, taking a HUGE weight off my mind. I would recommend them for any tax issue you may have! The service, hospitality, knowledge, and professionalism was outstanding!

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I used Robin McLean as an attorney to secure a divorce about 20 months ago. I found her to be efficient, reasonably priced, and very well skilled. I was completely happy with her work. She did what she said. Since that time, I needed additional help with paperwork and she responded promptly and to my complete satisfaction. I highly recommend Robin as an attorney.

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