Since the #MeToo movement began, countless individuals have lost their jobs and in turn, have detrimentally exposed themselves to serious financial losses due to the public exposure of their conduct and no longer being able to settle matters confidentially. Our current President, Donald Trump, is not even immune from these allegations. Victims from all walks of life have taken the courageous step and brought to light the rampant sexual misconduct in our society. One aspect of this movement that is intriguing for divorce attorneys is what a client should do regarding filing for a divorce when they have been subjected to sexual misconduct or know that their spouse has committed sexual misconduct against another person. We've outlined some considerations you should keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation:
My Spouse Has Committed Sexual Misconduct, When Should I File For Divorce in South Carolina?
The news that your spouse has sexually harassed or assaulted someone is certain to be shocking and many spouses will immediately want to consult with a divorce attorney to discuss ending the marriage. First, you must discuss with your attorney whether your spouse is likely to be subject to civil or criminal action due to their sexual misconduct. If this is a realistic concern for you, then you need to consider the timing and filing date of your divorce. When you file for divorce in Spartanburg or Greenville, South Carolina, the marital estate is established upon the date of filing for the divorce. If the likelihood is that the allegations against your spouse will be proven true, you will want to file as soon as possible in order for you to lock-in the value of your marital estate. This will allow you to assure yourself an equitable portion of your marital estate and will possibly lessen the risk of financial exposure from a civil action judgment from your spouse's victim. (Note: If the victim might be able to prove you were aware of your spouse's behavior, you will need to consult with a civil and criminal attorney to discuss your exposure to civil and/or criminal liability, as well.)
My Spouse Owns a Business in South Carolina and His Employee is His Alleged Victim. Will That Affect My Marital Estate?
When your spouse owns a business in South Carolina has been accused of sexual misconduct by one of his employees, you will want to consider the best strategy as to when to file for divorce for equitable distribution purposes. In a Spartanburg or Greenville, South Carolina divorce, the marital estate is divided between the spouses under an equitable distribution model. The Family Court will look to divide the marital estate evenly but it is in the Court's discretion to an award of assets in any division it deems fair and equitable given the facts of the case.
For example, if your spouse is a business owner and the business has a value of $250,000, but there are sexual misconduct allegations that reduce the value of the business to $150,000 based upon the adverse reputation your business-owning spouse now has, it would be advisable to file as soon as possible in order to lock-in the highest value for the business. Now, if the business was your spouse's prior to the marriage, it will more than likely be a non-marital asset, so there is less importance in filing as soon as possible. But, if the business was started during the marriage, it will more than likely be considered a marital asset, so it would be important to file as soon as possible in that scenario so that you are assured the highest possible marital estate value for equitable distribution purposes.
Will Sexual Misconduct Allegations Affect My Alimony and Child Support in a South Carolina Divorce?
Third, if your spouse has been alleged to have committed sexual misconduct, he could very well lose his job, and thus suffer a loss of income. Depending on the nature and circumstances of his job and income, this loss could be quite detrimental to you and your children. For example, if the alleged spouse had an earning capacity of $250,000, but has lost that job due to a sexual misconduct allegation and now has a job making $75,000, the loss in income will more than likely detrimentally affect any on-going financial awards which you and your children may be entitled to. If awarded, alimony and child support will be based on the $75,000 income level, not the $250,000 level, unless there are arguments which can be made to convince the Family Court to impute a higher income to your spouse.
Who Can I Discuss My Situation with if I live in Spartanburg or Greenville, South Carolina?
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.