When Someone Files Bankruptcy During a Divorce

Sometimes during a divorce or custody case, a party may file for divorce.  When this happens it is always wise to get a bankruptcy attorney involved as bankruptcy is a specialized area of the law.  More likely than not you will probably need the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney to help get the case resolved.  Generally, bankruptcy will delay a divorce case from being completed.  However, in some instances the case can continue provided one of the parties asks the bankruptcy court to lift the automatic stay that is put in place whenever bankruptcy is filed.  Nevertheless, bankruptcy will not stop someone’s child support or alimony obligation.  If you are involved in a divorce or custody case, and the other side files for bankruptcy, contact me as soon as possible, so I can advise you on the next steps to take in order to bring a resolution to your case.

-Rhett D. Burney

Who Gets The Engagement Ring?

As a divorce attorney, I often get asked, “Who gets the engagement ring?”  The answer is: It depends.  If there was no marriage, we would need to look at the court’s decisions in other states for guidance since South Carolina courts have never answered this question clearly.  There is no doubt that the wedding ring was a gift to the bride to be, but some courts have considered the gift to be a completed  gift while others see the ring as a conditional gift.  If the ring is considered a completed gift, then the woman usually keeps the ring.  If the court sees the ring as a conditional gift, meaning that it was given conditioned upon marriage, then most courts have ruled that since the marriage did not occur then the ring should be returned.  For an exhaustive study on engagement rings and how they are treated when the marriage does not occur, read Campbell v. Robinson, 398 S.C. 12, 726 S.E.2d 221 (S.C.App. 2012).If, however, the marriage ceremony occurred, then the courts in South Carolina generally order that the wedding ring remains the brides as it was a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage.  Since the marriage took place, the court sees the ring as a gift given prior to the marriage.  Therefore, because the ring was a gift given before marriage, it would be considered pre-marital property and not subject to a division by the family court.
Rhett D. Burney, Esquire



Let’s say that you have taken all of the precautions you can, but you are still in a wreck. What do you do?  Depending on the extent of your injuries and the nature of the accident, here is a list of things you should consider doing if you are in a wreck:

  1. First, check yourself for injury. Next, check your passengers for injury. Also make sure no one in the other vehicle is hurt. Call 911.  If someone is injured, do not move them unless they are in danger, i.e. the car is on fire or in danger of being struck by a passing vehicle, the person is not breathing, etc.
  2. Understand where you are and make sure others can see you and your car.  Move your car if doing so would be safer.
  3. If you are injured, then you should seek medical care as soon as possible. You should do your best to follow your doctor’s advice. Your failure to seek medical care and follow your doctor’s advice could be very bad for your health and hurt your chances at being fairly reimbursed for your injuries and other losses.
  4. Do not admit fault at the scene. Statements made at the scene can be used as evidence against you. There will be time later to address who was at fault.  However, if the accident was your fault, you must tell the truth.


  1. Always tell the truth.
  2. Keep your attorney and Guardian ad Litem informed of your current information, such as telephone number, email address, mailing address, and residence address.
  3. Do not move too often from one house to another. Prior to any move, contact your attorney to get his advice.
  4. Keep your attorney informed of any major life-changing event such as a job change, a move, an arrest, a death of a witness, a Department of Social Services investigation, a late payment of child support, or a violation of the court order.
  5. Do not make any posts on Facebook or any other social media website unless your attorney gives you permission to do so. It is best to close down your Facebook account during your case. I often use Facebook material when representing our clients. Anything put on Facebook can usually be used in court.
  6. Your telephone conversations and other conversations may be audio or video taped under certain circumstances, so be careful of the way you speak to someone and what you say to them.
  7. Email and text can also be reproduced. Be very careful of what you say in them. Do not let the heat of the moment influence what you write or text.
  8. A private investigator may be following you. Technology allows someone to watch you without being seen. If you are doing something that looks inappropriate to a stranger, it will look bad to the court, so be careful of what you do.
  9. Do not go on any dates or be alone with anyone of the opposite sex during your family court case. Remember you are married until you are divorced even though you may be separated from your spouse. Most judges hate adultery and if you are caught in a situation that may be considered adultery, the court may punish you in some way.
  10. Be involved in your child’s school and extracurricular activities. Attend Teacher/Parent conferences and go to lunch with your child. Unless the court order says otherwise, make sure you are going to all of your child’s extracurricular activities even if it is not your time to have your child.
  11. Make sure your child is not tardy or misses any school unless it is excused. Any missed days or classes can be used against you in the court. Judges often look at school records, grades, and absences/tardies in custody cases.
  12. Make a budget. If you are getting ready to separate from your spouse or to complete a divorce, you need a budget that includes what you believe your future income and expenses will be. Bills double and incomes are cut in half once the divorce is final. You need to be financially capable of supporting yourself, so plan accordingly.
  13. Be patient. A family court case is a marathon and not a sprint.
  14. Keep a diary or calendar of important events.  If your spouse is habitually late paying child support/alimony, is always bringing the children home late, is always getting the children to school late, keep a diary.  A diary accomplishes several things.  It will help refresh your memory, and it will help your attorney better prepare your case.

Rhett D. Burney, Esq.


Are Unallocated Support Payments Taxable Or Non-Taxable To The Spouse Making The Payments?

Sometimes in divorce cases a court will order a spouse to make unallocated support payments to the other spouse.  These payments are similar to alimony payments, but they are a little different because an unallocated payment is usually used for not only supporting the spouse, but they can also be for child support or for the payment of other bills.  Alimony is generally taxable to the spouse receiving the payment of alimony and tax deductible for the spouse paying the alimony.  Likewise, unallocated support is taxable to the supported spouse and deductible by the supporting spouse unless the court issues an order stating otherwise.  For a more in depth look at this issue read the case of Brown v. Brown, 375 S.C. 48, 650 S.E.2d 84 (2007). Rhett D. Burney, Attorney and Family Court Mediator http://www.rdburney@turnerandburney.com