In South Carolina only the Family Court has jurisdiction to divide marital property. The division of marital property is known as equitable distribution. Marital property includes all property, both real and personal acquired by either party during the marriage regardless of how title is held (an individual spouse’s name, joint name, or in certain circumstances, the name of a third party) except property that was acquired by inheritance or gift from someone other than a spouse. Non-marital property includes property that was owned prior to marriage or property that was a gift (from a 3rd party) or inheritance during marriage. Marital and non-marital debts would have the same definitions as their “property” counterparts, except that the word debt is substituted for property.
Non-marital property may become marital property if it is transmuted. Transmutation may exist if it is shown that the parties treated and considered the property as marital during the marriage. Transmutation may be shown by placing the property in joint name, the property was commingled with marital property so as to become untraceable, or if the property was used in support of the marriage.
There are 16 factors which the law requires the trial judge to consider when dividing marital property and debt. The factors are: