Divorce Attorney in North Charleston SC

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If there were one universal truth" it would be that every family is different. We all have our own set of challenges to face and changes to go through. Sometimes" those changes are happy" like when a new baby is born. Other times" these changes involve uncertainty and loss" like in the event of a divorce.

If you are having to go through the pain of divorce" deal with a complicated custody issue" or are handling a different family-related legal matter" you might need help. At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" we understand that family issues are hard. Many of the family law clients that we work for have big questions about the future" leaving them over-stressed and full of worry. They are concerned about their children" their marriage" or both. They are wrestling with uncertainty and anxiety" having been served confusing documents that don't make sense. Sound familiar? A family law attorney in North Charleston" SC" can help" whether you need a level-headed moderator or a trusted advocate in the courtroom.

At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" we have decades of combined experience serving the needs of families" from divorce proceedings to family formation issues. Our team is fiercely committed to our clients" and with a dedicated focus" stays up-to-date on the nuanced world of family law in North Charleston. If you're looking for personal attention" unbiased representation" and a responsive family law attorney" look no further than our law firm.

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If you're unsure of whether you need a family law lawyers in North Charleston" ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you getting married?
  • Are you thinking about divorce?
  • Has your spouse served you with legal papers?
  • Are your kids not receiving the support that they are entitled to?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above" know that we are here to help you figure out your next steps. With CDH Law Firm by your side" you can have the confidence to face even the most difficult family law issues. All of our attorneys have years of experience" are incredibly responsive" and fight for your family's rights. We are happy to take as much time as you need to answer questions and help put your mind at ease for whatever lies ahead.

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Our firm specializes in a wide range of family law cases" including:

  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Alimony
  • Adoptions
  • Child Support
  • Mediation
  • Property Division
  • More

If you have been left to manage a foreign family law situation" it's time to call Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC. We will sit down with you for an hour at absolutely no cost - because we understand what you're going through and know that you need answers" not another bill to pay.

To help provide you with a basic understanding of family law" keep reading for in-depth explanations on our areas of expertise.

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Divorce lawyer in
North Charleston" SC.

At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" we know all-too-well that a "one size fits all" approach isn't going to work very well for your unique situation. That's why we approach each divorce case from a personalized standpoint - something that we feel like each of our clients deserves.

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Our goal is to help solve your family law issues and focus on your needs when your divorce is finalized. We will help develop a strategy for:
  • Meeting your post-divorce needs and objectives
  • Dividing marital property for maximum benefit
  • Maximizing time spent with your child as part of your divorce's parenting plan
  • Strengthen your role as a decision-maker for your child
  • Navigating your divorce proceedings and minimizing financial and emotional costs

By working together" our divorce law firm will help you rebuild your life and secure a better future for your family.

Divorces in South Carolina
- Different Than Other States

Unlike divorce law in other states" South Carolina divorce law doesn't allow spouses to receive an instant no-fault divorce. One or both spouses in the marriage must establish a legally acceptable reason for a divorce to happen. Grounds for a divorce in North Charleston" SC include:

  • Desertion
  • Physical Cruelty
  • Habitual Drunkenness
  • Separation for One Year or More
  • Adultery
 Divorce Attorney North Charleston, SC

If you or your spouse do not have the necessary grounds for divorce in North Charleston" our family law firm can file a Separate Maintenance and Support action. This step lets the court order child custody" alimony" and marital bills until you can file for your divorce. During this period" Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC gathers pertinent info on your spouse's character and assets that can strengthen your case" should it be necessary.

Common Issues Associated
with Divorces in North Charleston

A divorce in North Charleston means more than the end of a marriage. It involves dividing the parties' debts and assets" determines child support and custody parameters" and can establish alimony. At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" many of our clients are able to reach agreements with their spouse to resolve these issues. Reaching an agreement lets both parties customize the terms of their divorce to conserve resources" avoid trial" and meet the family's needs.

Sometimes" however" two spouses cannot or will not come to terms with an agreement. In these situations" a trial is possible" and litigation is necessary. Our family law attorneys in North Charleston" SC. are highly experienced litigators and are well-equipped to handle any disputes revealed in the conference or courtroom.

Common divorce issues include:

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1.

Child Custody and Visitation

One of the most heart-wrenching" difficult decisions for parents going through a divorce is resolving child custody and visitation issues. Child custody refers to how much time each parent will spend with their child" and whether they can make decisions for them. According to South Carolina law" child custody and visitation time are based on what is best for the child.

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2.

Child Support

Like other U.S states" a formula is used in South Carolina to determine how much child support a person must pay. This formula recommends the amount of child support based on factors like how much income the parents make" the cost of childcare" and the obligation to support children from other relationships.

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3.

Alimony

In South Carolina" there is no formula to determine how much alimony a person must pay. However" courts consider several factors when deciding if alimony is needed" how much alimony should be paid" and how long a spouse must pay it. Those factors include each spouse's ability and need to pay alimony" how long the marriage lasted" and any marital misconduct that occurred. To make matters more confusing" there are different alimony types" including lump sum" rehabilitative" and reimbursement.

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4.

Distribution of Property

In South Carolina" marital property is the property that each spouse amasses from the date of the wedding to the time a spouse files for divorce. That property can often include marital debt. In a South Carolina divorce" the courts will order an equitable division of property" meaning "fair" under all circumstances but not necessarily equal.

 Divorce Lawyer North Charleston, SC

Understanding Child Custody in North Charleston" SC

As mentioned above" decisions that involve child custody and visitation can be contentious for parents" both emotionally and legally. As experienced" empathetic divorce lawyers" we understand how difficult this process can be. When we work with clients going through child custody battles" we always make it a point to be with them through the ups and downs" to help them stay centered. Whether you are the husband or wife in your divorce" we share a common goal: finding an effective way to support your children and assure their wellbeing.

In South Carolina" child custody is a loaded term. In the most general definition" child custody determines when each parent is responsible for the physical care of the child and how much authority each parent has" to make decisions in their child's life.

No two child custody cases are the same" but a negotiated custody arrangement is usually preferred in the judge's eyes" as each parent has input in the process. If the parents cannot come to an amicable resolution" their fate is left in the hands of a Family Court Judge in South Carolina. The focus of child custody law is always on what is in the "best interests" of the child. What the judge determines to be the "best interests" changes depending on the judge.

There are different variations of "custody" in South Carolina (or custody arrangements)" each with varying degrees of authority. When you consult with our family law attorneys at Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" we will go over the child custody process in detail and touch on each distinction to eliminate any confusion you have.

  • Help develop cooperative solutions to disputes or mediate when needed
  • Create an equitable parenting plan
  • Discuss the implications of the different forms of joint and sole custody
  • Problems related to child support
  • Modify court orders if you or your child's circumstances change
  • Enforcement of visitation and custody agreements
  • Much more
Many of the family law clients that walk into our office have big questions that are leaving them full of stress and worry. <

Many of the family law clients that walk into our office have big questions that are leaving them full of stress and worry.

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Understanding Child Support
in North Charleston" SC

When children are involved in divorce cases" child support is often ordered. Several factors can impact whether child support is ordered" like the income-earning potential of the child's parents" any custody arrangements that are created" and what needs the child may have.

At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" we have years of experience with child support issues relating to:

  • Cases where child support is needed for stay-at-home parents
  • Modifications and enforcement of child support mandates
  • Resolving support and custody disputes
  • Mediation arrangements to reach an agreement on child support. Compared to litigation" going
  • the mediated route often means less stress and is more cost-effective than trial.

When you trust our family law firm in North Charleston for representation" we can help calculate an estimate of how much child support you or your spouse may be ordered to pay. We can also perform a needs-based analysis in cases that involve large amounts of income. At the end of the day" our goal is to make this frustrating process as stress-free as possible for you" so that you can focus on living life and caring for your child.

Understanding Alimony in
North Charleston" SC

Alimony (sometimes called spousal support or maintenance) is ordered by the court or negotiated between parties. This kind of spousal support has many factors" like the income of both spouses" how long they were married" and the age of each spouse. Like child custody and child support" trusted legal guidance is strongly recommended if you are facing potential alimony payments. Our family law attorneys will help you reach amicable arrangements for fair and appropriate alimony payments.

At Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC" your family law attorney in North Charleston" SC" will help protect your interests and rights regarding:

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  • Alimony and business assets
  • Permanent or long-term alimony
  • Significant alimony in high-asset divorces
  • Modifications to alimony arrangements when you or your spouse's circumstances change
  • Enforcement of spousal support mandates" when needed

Understanding Division of
Property in North Charleston" SC

When there are no children" marital property" or issues of alimony" divorces often proceed smoothly between amicable spouses. However" most divorces in South Carolina are much more complex. Typically" divorce involves a union between spouses that lasts for years and involves substantial marital property. This property can be personal property" real estate" family businesses" debts" out-of-state property" debts" bank accounts" and more.

In these nuanced situations" the applicable parties need assistance dividing their property. This help most often comes from seasoned family law attorneys like Cobb Dill & Hammett" LLC.

When it comes to distribution of property" certain types of properties that are controversial" even under the property division rules in South Carolina. South Carolina is an equitable distribution state" meaning that marital property is divided equitably but not always equally.

If you are going through a divorce" it's important that you are aware of the following assets and the common issues their division presents:

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Pensions

Pensions:

Generally" pensions are the second-largest asset in a marriage. When there are sufficient alternative income sources to compensate the non-pension holder" South Carolina divorce courts may leave the pension rights with the spouse who earned it" with future distribution available. Otherwise" a divorce court may enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order requiring the pension administrator to pay both the former spouse and worker.

Family Home

Family Home:

The family home" or the primary residential property owned by the divorcing couple" is usually considered a marriage's biggest asset. Dividing this kind of property can be complex and frustrating" especially when there are kids involved.

Many divorcing couples have a hard time reaching an agreement on property division. Because the division of property depends on the complexity of you or your spouse's assets and liabilities" it is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney to provide guidance.

Latest News in North Charleston, SC

Coast Guardsman helps boater who crashed into seawall in North Charleston

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Coast Guardsmen jumped into action to help an injured boater after a vessel crashed into a seawall near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on the Cooper River in North Charleston.The crash happened at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.“I was outside playing a game of corn hole with some of my fellow classmates when we heard a boat coming by and a loud crash,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Clifford Marshall said.Marshall is currently a student at the training center and is based o...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Coast Guardsmen jumped into action to help an injured boater after a vessel crashed into a seawall near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on the Cooper River in North Charleston.

The crash happened at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

“I was outside playing a game of corn hole with some of my fellow classmates when we heard a boat coming by and a loud crash,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Clifford Marshall said.

Marshall is currently a student at the training center and is based out of St. Louis.

He said once he heard the crash, he saw the boat up against the seawall and ran inside to tell his superiors to call base security and to call 9-1-1 for help.

He then ran toward the seawall and shimmied for several minutes on the rusted seawall, cutting his hands in the process, to reach the spot where the boat was, being the first person on the scene.

“My hands were about eye high on me,” Marshall said. “My feet were on a knife-edge, and I just had to walk sideways on it for about 100 yards to get out there.”

Once he got there, he said he made sure the boater was the only one on board and assessed the person’s injuries before help arrived.

“After doing some of that, I signaled to the fire boat that was coming in the area where I was at, announced myself as U.S. Coast Guard, told them I was there to help,” Marshall said. “Then, I began assisting them putting the individual onto the backboard and moving them from that vessel onto their vessel after we had to move some of the damage from the boat there.”

Coast Guard Lt. Nathan Ryan, an instructor at the training center, said Marshall’s actions are part of what the military branch stands for.

“The Coast Guard’s motto is Semper Paratus, always ready, and I believe that Petty Officer Marshall’s actions were indicative of that motto,” Ryan said. “We’re always ready. We rely on our training and our instincts that we’ve gathered from that.”

Marshall has since gotten tetanus shots for his cuts, but that doesn’t matter to him -- only that a person in trouble needed help.

“I don’t think anyone else wouldn’t have done that as well if they had that opportunity. Just did my best,” Marshall said.

The petty officer said he was in the right place at the right time and just a Coast Guardsmen doing his duty.

Authorities said the boater suffered significant injuries and was transported to MUSC.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is continuing to investigate the crash.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

35 food trucks unite in North Charleston for annual festival

Food trucks have become a key part of Charleston’s food and beverage industry, but it hasn’t always been that way.Roti Rolls co-owner Cory Burke recalls being one of just four Charleston trucks when he hit the road with favorites like the “Mother Clucker” and “Thurman Murman” in 2010. That’s why he decided to launch the Charleston Food Truck Festival, which will return for an 11th time in May.With 35 food trucks, almost 20 retail vendors and a new North Charleston venue, Burke hopes to ...

Food trucks have become a key part of Charleston’s food and beverage industry, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Roti Rolls co-owner Cory Burke recalls being one of just four Charleston trucks when he hit the road with favorites like the “Mother Clucker” and “Thurman Murman” in 2010. That’s why he decided to launch the Charleston Food Truck Festival, which will return for an 11th time in May.

With 35 food trucks, almost 20 retail vendors and a new North Charleston venue, Burke hopes to build on the momentum from the 2021 festival that was held in the spring for the first time.

“Last year, I couldn’t even believe the turnout,” said Burke, describing the 2021 two-day festival that brought 18,000 people to North Charleston’s Riverfront Park. “It was one of the best vibes we’ve ever had. Everyone was in it together, and I think there’s always been a camaraderie (between) the trucks.”

This year, A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen, The Motley Chew, Bangin’ Vegan Eats, & Lobster, Area 51 Foods, La’Son Anchor Grill, Lola’s Lumpia and many more will set up shop in the Tanger Outlets parking lot (4840 Tanger Outlet Blvd.) in North Charleston. The free event will take place from noon-8 p.m. May 21 and 22.

And moving forward, Burke says the festival will be biannual, with the fall fest scheduled for Oct. 22-23. Making the festival free enhances sales opportunities for the trucks, Burke said.

“We started this as food trucks to support food trucks, and the biggest way for us to support food trucks is to not charge admission,” he said.

Since its 2010 debut, Roti Rolls has expanded to Atlanta, where Burke operates another Roti Rolls food truck, mobile bar and brewpub called Best End Brewing Co. With these new spin-offs, Burke is continuing to prove that food trucks can be thriving ventures long-term alongside business partner Alton Ankersen.

They hope the Charleston Food Truck Festival helps newer trucks grow their brand locally.

Last year’s festival was the first time & Lobster owner Rob Cassi, who debuted his New England-inspired truck in 2020, had participated in an event of that size and stature. He’s since added more festivals to the truck’s schedule, shortening his menu for the high-volume events to feature & Lobster’s specialties: Lobster, crab and shrimp rolls, which will be available at the Charleston Food Truck Festival.

For Cassi, the best part of popping up at festivals is the chance to converse and collaborate with other food truck owners.

“The truck community is really cool to be a part of, and it is honestly refreshing to work alongside other great owners,” Cassi said. “I love these festivals because we’re generally all of a mindset that we want everyone to succeed.”

Beverage tents will be stationed throughout the outdoor venue, and vendors will even swing by individual food trucks to serve patrons who are waiting in line; although Cassi says customers won’t have to worry about waiting in line at & Lobster.

“We don’t want to keep people waiting in line,” he said. “I try to keep our wait time to order at a minute and then serving our food to less than 5 minutes.”

For more information on the Charleston Food Truck Festival, go to chsfoodtruckfestival.com.

Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC expanding operations in Charleston County

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC, a modern blacksmithing company, today announced plans to expand operations in Charleston County. The company’s $2.9 million investment will create 45 new jobs over the next three years.Founded in 2013, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC intertwines traditional blacksmith techniques with modern machining and fabrication methods to craft iron pieces ranging from custom architectural ironwor...

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC, a modern blacksmithing company, today announced plans to expand operations in Charleston County. The company’s $2.9 million investment will create 45 new jobs over the next three years.

Founded in 2013, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC intertwines traditional blacksmith techniques with modern machining and fabrication methods to craft iron pieces ranging from custom architectural ironwork commissions to volume-produced pieces of furniture, decorative hardware and cookware.

Relocating within the county to 56 Hayter Street in North Charleston, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC’s new facility will expand the company’s operational footprint to accommodate production line growth.

The expansion is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2023. Individuals interested in joining the Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC team should visit the company’s careers page.

QUOTES

“We are excited about the next phase of Robert Thomas Iron Design’s growth and are very happy that we are able to do this on the historic Navy Base. Our expanded operations will enable our growing community of craftsmen and designers to have the space, equipment and support they need to keep the spirit of blacksmithing thriving in Charleston.” -Robert Thomas Iron Design Owner Robert Thomas

“The success of our existing industries is critical to South Carolina’s strong and growing economy. Today we celebrate Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC’s expansion and 45 new jobs in Charleston County. Congratulations, and we look forward to their continued success.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“Congratulations to Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC on expanding in Charleston County. It’s particularly exciting to announce the growth of a modern blacksmithing company such as Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC. We look forward to seeing how the company continues to inspire modern craftsmanship in Charleston County and across South Carolina.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III

“Blacksmithing is experiencing a modern artistic revival, and we are proud that Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC has committed to growing this craft in Charleston County. Their investment and creation of new jobs is a welcome addition to the community.” -Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor

Victim alleges years of harassment, by North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A longtime City of North Charleston employee is accusing North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey of inappropriate sexual advances both before and during her time working for the city.DeLisa Reynolds and Keith Summey have known each other for decades. In the late 1990’s DeLisa and her husband at the time, along with Keith, and his wife, Deb...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A longtime City of North Charleston employee is accusing North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey of inappropriate sexual advances both before and during her time working for the city.

DeLisa Reynolds and Keith Summey have known each other for decades. In the late 1990’s DeLisa and her husband at the time, along with Keith, and his wife, Deborah, owned a post office together on E. Montague Avenue in North Charleston.

“So, the four of us renovated, we did work, we ran businesses, we opened a post office,” said Reynolds. “I took that service on.”

Being self-employed, Reynolds said she was concerned about her lack of health insurance. That’s when the Summeys offered her a part-time job working as a receptionist for the City of North Charleston in 2001.

At that time, Summey had been mayor for around seven years.

“I started about 21 years ago and have been there ever since,” said Reynolds.

Throughout her time working for the city, Reynolds moved up the ranks from a part-time receptionist to a secretary a year later, then to an administrative assistant in 2006, a special events coordinator in 2016, and earlier this year she became archives and history coordinator.

Reynolds says the sexual advances by Mayor Summey started before Reynolds began working at the city. She says they began at the post office the Reynolds and Summeys owned together.

“I was at the post office working and he came in. And I went into the closet and he followed me. and that’s where it all began. It was groping. and kissing me,” said Reynolds.

She approximates the time frame of that was in the summer of 1999.

“How many times? I can’t tell you…I can’t tell you that. I don’t….it was so many.”

She said things progressed over the following years and never completely stopped and Summey would still make comments.

“Up until November, this past November it was ‘Hey, let me get a kiss.'”

Reynolds says she was never comfortable reporting the alleged harassment out of fear of retaliation.

“No. I didn’t have anyone to report that to. At that time it was a man’s world. HR was a man director that was very close with the people in the executive department. So I didn’t think I was safe enough to say that or would I lose my job for saying that to HR? I didn’t want my family to know what was going on. I didn’t want my children to know, my husband. So, I just kept it.”

Reynolds considered leaving her job but was concerned about finding the same amount of money and a job she liked as much as her city job.

Reynolds says she started noticing what she describes as an “abuse of power” by Mayor Summey and other executive staffers at the city.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever really noticed so much of it until it actually happened to me directly,” said Reynolds. “Because I was dedicated to the city and the mayor. My goal always was to make sure my job reflected on him as me doing a good job for the city. It was to make him and the city look good.”

During her time working in the executive department, Reynolds says things would stick out to her.

“You notice promotions and things going on and people that were getting more than what others weren’t getting for doing double the work. Other people were coming in because they were friends or whatever. Granted, I was a friend of the mayor as well and the family. So I felt ‘well, they’re protecting me by offering me a position.'”

She says she really started to notice the “abuse of power” when she saw other women becoming involved.

“Just by the way they would disappear together,” said Reynolds. “But I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought.”

Reynolds’ job was switched and she began working at Riverfront Park, something she did not enjoy at first because she felt isolated.

“Maybe that’s because I was starting to see things a little bit differently,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds never planned on coming forward with the allegations. She tells News 2 she planned to stop working for the city at the end of Mayor Summey’s current term which ends in 2023.

“I had already started making a 2.5-year plan. That when the mayor left, I would go too. And I would go silently. And they wouldn’t let me finish out my tenure that way.”

Last October, Reynolds’ adult son made a negative comment on social media about Elliot Summey, Mayor Summey’s son.

Reynolds believes the actions of her son had a direct impact on her, even though she told the Summey family that those were her son’s beliefs and words and did not reflect her own.

“I took a direct hit. My workload got different, I did things that I should not have had to do as a salaried employee, I put in a lot of extra hours that I should not have to do,” said Reynolds. “When they stopped talking to me back in October, things were building and building and I was being scrutinized with everything I did.”

Fast forward to the beginning of 2022, Reynolds was removed from her role of being a Special Event Coordinator at Riverfront Park and given a new role.

“They created this position so they could remove me from what I had worked so hard for.”

Reynolds’ new title is Archives and History Coordinator. A job she says she’s not qualified for nor did she want or ask for.

“They were forcing me out of my position and creating a position I technically do not have the knowledge to do.”

Then, in February 2022, Reynolds filed a formal complaint to the city detailing what she calls the abuse of power.

Reynolds says because of this recent situation, she is upset and frustrated and has changed the way she is thinking about her future.

That’s why she decided to come forward with these allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse of power.

“I started to rethink…this is not the life I want to live.”

A press release sent to News 2 by the lawyers of Reynolds says if a formal investigation is not made into the allegations, Reynolds will take legal action.

The City of North Charleston responded with the following statement on Sunday. They declined a request for comment on Monday.

“On January 14, 2022, Ms. Reynolds was notified of a lateral move to Archives and History Coordinator. This transfer did not negatively affect Ms. Reynolds’ pay or benefits with the city. Ms. Reynolds’ complaint was received shortly thereafter.

Employment History:Part-time receptionist – 2001Secretary – 2002 Administrative Assistant – 2006 Special Events Coordinator – 2016Archives and History Coordinator – 2022

Mayor Summey and the City deny the allegations raised by Ms. Reynolds’ lawyer and will not comment further on threatened or pending litigation.

City of North Charleston”

Reynolds is currently on leave from her job as part of the Family and Medical Leave Act due to medical issues. She was approved for leave on January 21st, 2022, was reevaluated on April 14th and her leave was extended until June 24th.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

SC animal shelters remain at overcapacity: ‘We’re overwhelmed’

COLUMBIA — Shelters across South Carolina are overflowing as the number of animals rises for the second time since 2020.More animals arriving at shelters in the summer is not unusual as more people go on vacation or move, said Victoria Riles, superintendent of Columbia Animal Services.And shelters have been at higher capacity since fewer animals are being spayed and neutered as COVID-19 took most of the attention of medical professionals, said Abigail Appleton, chief projects officer at North Charleston-based No Kill Sout...

COLUMBIA — Shelters across South Carolina are overflowing as the number of animals rises for the second time since 2020.

More animals arriving at shelters in the summer is not unusual as more people go on vacation or move, said Victoria Riles, superintendent of Columbia Animal Services.

And shelters have been at higher capacity since fewer animals are being spayed and neutered as COVID-19 took most of the attention of medical professionals, said Abigail Appleton, chief projects officer at North Charleston-based No Kill South Carolina.

But shelter owners have said overcrowding is worse than ever before with a shortage of veterinarians and fewer people willing to temporarily house animals, commonly known as fostering.

The overcapacity has been going on since the winter.

“We’re overwhelmed and trying to do the best that we can but the animals ultimately are going to suffer,” said Denise Wilkinson, chief executive of Columbia’s Pawmetto Lifeline.

Seventy percent of the 75 shelters in South Carolina don’t have a dedicated veterinarian, Wilkinson said. Without one, it’s harder to give away dogs since state law says any dog that is adopted must be fixed.

This creates a growing number of dogs in shelters.

Pawmetto Lifeline had 177 animals in a building meant for 150 on June 13. To fit the extra animals, they had to store their animals in an area meant for training dogs.

On May 27, Columbia Animal Services declared a state of emergency on its social media pages. It had 192 dogs in its building, which has 148 dog kennels. Almost all of their kennels had a dog or two in them on June 14. One dog was in a cage in a room meant for playing with cats.

Cheryl Price, an animal control officer at Calhoun County Animal Shelter, said the shelter has been at capacity for the past year and a half with 18 kennels. She said whenever a dog is adopted, two or three are waiting to take its place.

“It’s just mentally and physically exhausting. Your mind never shuts down,” Price said.

As more dogs arrive at shelters, the threat of diseases spreading increases.

Joe Elmore, president and CEO of Charleston Animal Society, said more dogs are coming to their shelter in North Charleston with distemper, a virus that is usually incurable, fatal and highly transmissible. State law also says dogs admitted to a shelter must be held for five days.

The growing number of animals also can result in an increase in dogs being put down, according to Shelly Simmons, director of Greenville County Animal Care. She said that the shelter usually puts down dogs with moderate to severe behavioral or health problems. Now, she said they’re having to put down dogs with only mild problems.

“They could become healthy if we had the space and the time,” Simmons said.

Multiple shelters either lowered or removed adoption fees for some time. Columbia Animal Services waived all adoption fees last week and Greenville County Animal Care has free adoptions for all of June.

“It really is still only a Band-Aid to the bigger problem, which is, the number of pets that are coming into the shelter,” Simmons said.

Pawmetto Lifeline has lowered its fees for three days earlier in June and opened up two hours early June 11 to get more people to take their animals. Wilkinson said they were considering opening early again on June 18.

One way Pawmetto Lifeline and other shelters reduce their capacity is by getting people to take cats and dogs home temporarily. The group, however, has a list of several hundred animals waiting to be put into foster care.

Despite their pushes on social media and their deals, though, Wilkinson said they received a very small response from anyone willing to temporarily house an animal.

Many of the dogs filling up shelters are pit bulls and pit bulls mix, according to Elmore. Since shelters facing capacity issues won’t be able to give the care animals need, this could make dogs more aggressive, Elmore said.

Some shelter owners favor stronger spay and neuter laws targeting pitbull-type dogs specifically.

“We’re all just frustrated with having to put them down because there’s so many flooding the shelters now,” Elmore said.

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