April 17, 2019

Are Diamonds Forever?


According to Business Insider, in 2017 South Carolinians spent an average of $8,599 on engagement rings. (https://www.businessinsider.com/engagement-ring-average-cost-by-state-2018-2#6-massachusetts-8426-46) With numbers like that it’s no surprise that when relationships get rocky, who gets to keep the ring is a common controversy. Surprisingly, when the breakup happens is more important than who caused it when deciding who gets to keep the ring.

In South Carolina, an engagement ring is viewed as a conditional gift. As explained in Campbel v. Robinson, 398 S.C. 12, 725 S.E.2d 221 (S.C. App, 2012) “an engagement ring . . . is impliedly conditioned upon the marriage taking place, [and until] the condition underlying the gift is fulfilled, the attempted gift is unenforceable and must be returned to the donor upon the donor’s request.”  Therefore, if the couple breaks up before the marriage, whichever party gave the engagement ring generally has the right to ask for it back regardless of who caused the breakup. Of course, because the couples were never married, if the issue has to be litigated it will be in civil court instead of family court.

On the other hand, if the couple breaks up after they are married it may be a different matter as the condition for the gift was fulfilled when the marriage took place. The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that “[a]n antenuptial gift of an engagement ring is the recipient’s separate property.” Frank v. Frank, 429 S.E.2d 823, 311 S.C. 454 (S.C. App., 1993) In other words, the court determined that the ring was not marital property and therefore not subject to equitable division by the Family Court. This may cause some people to think twice before giving the family heirloom engagement ring away. Although it may be possible to protect an heirloom ring with a prenuptial agreement.

To find out more about prenuptial agreements, call 843-445-9933 to schedule a consult with our family law attorney, Sara Brinson.

Nothing in this article is intended to constitute legal advice or create an attorney – client relationship with the reader.

August 9, 2016

DUI Q&A: Should I Take a Breathalyzer Test?


Q: If I am pulled over for Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence, should I take the breathalyzer test?

A: This is the most common question asked of DUI attorneys but the answer is not so black and white. First off, no one should ever be behind the wheel when they are impaired. However, sometimes these things just happen. So what should you do if this happens to you? This will depend on the person and their specific situation.

Everyone’s body will  react differently to alcohol so you can’t really predict how high your blood alcohol level  will be at a given time, unless of course you haven’t had anything to drink at all.  It is  usually safe to assume that if you have been drinking, you have a substantial risk of  blowing over the legal limit (0.08 BAC).

If you choose to take the breathalyzer test and blow over a 0.08, you will be charged with  DUI or Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC).  This test will be used  against you as rather strong evidence of your intoxication.

Should you choose not to blow, which is your legal right, you face the potential of a six month suspension of your license and your refusal may be used against you in court.  However, there are ways in which you can likely have this suspension overturned quickly.  You may also be eligible for a route-restricted license which will allow you to drive to and from work or Court ordered classes.

The bottom line, if you have been drinking at all, while there are risk and benefits to both choices, exercising your right NOT to blow is probably the more prudent choice.  While this choice subjects you to the potential of suspension of your license, without the concrete evidence of a negative breath analysis the prosecution’s ability to convict is made more difficult.  You also avoid the risk of scoring above a 1.4 blood/alcohol reading which carries with it a mandatory, more difficult to reverse, immediate suspension of license.