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October 7, 2017

What Should I Know About Divorce Law in South Carolina?

Divorce Lawyer in Greenville South Carolina

Most often a divorce is the first time anyone has to seek out a lawyer. Divorce is hard, and emotions run high. You may feel angry, confused, and hurt. Questions run through your mind, and you have no idea where to start first. Finding a quality family law attorney is your first step to managing a complicated process.

It is important that you know what the laws are, what your rights are, and what options you have. Your lawyer is there to help you through this as well as make sure you are protected, and all legal requirements are met.  

Though most couples want the dissolution of their marriage to be painless and as amicable as possible, you must understand that the end of marriage is not easy, especially when it comes the division of property. This division is not easy to maneuver, basically because being fair and equitable just is not that simple. It is not just the house and savings that have to be divided. The division includes pensions, investments and potential earnings and whether one will receive spousal support.

Since South Carolina requires equitable distribution of assets and debts, a judge considers certain things to assure fairness.

  • The length of your marriage

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    If you are deciding if a divorce is right for you or need representation, talk to experienced Greenville divorce lawyer, Lauren Taylor.

  • The value of your assets
  • Your income now and your earning ability in the future
  • What each partner brought into the marriage
  • Spousal support that may be awarded

Equitable and fair does not mean equal, a 50-50 split.

  • The judge decides what is fair, and only marital property is divided.
  • If you have property from before the marriage or an inheritance, they may not be subject to the equitable distribution.  
  • If you had a written agreement and agreed that a certain asset is a non-marital property, then it is not divided between partners.

Are You Ready to File For Divorce in South Carolina?

  • Often people contact a divorce attorney before they are ready to file.
  • A good lawyer will explore the situation with you and suggest looking at options like mediation or counseling to see if the marriage can be saved.
  • You should look at your emotional situation and be as sure as you can that your emotional issues are resolved.
  • Divorce is emotional anyway, and emotional baggage that has not been dealt with only makes a difficult situation that much more challenging.

Remember laws regulate divorce, so there is a legal component to your situation. Also, if children are involved, you have to co-parent with your former spouse and you need to be ready to the realities of this. Make sure before you file that you have done all you can to make your marriage work. Try to unpack your emotional baggage. Do your homework and research divorce and the laws in your state. Find a good family law attorney. Finally, if children are involved are your prepared to co-parent so your children can have the best situation possible in the confines of their parent’s divorce.

What South Carolina Divorce Laws Should I Know?


  • To file for divorce in South Carolina, you must have been a resident for a least one year before filing.
  • This means that you have established yourself as a resident of South Carolina and have not just stayed with friends or family for a period.
  • If you are not a resident of the state, the court will not hear our petition because it does not have jurisdiction over the case.
  • If the plaintiff lives in another state, the one who files, then the defendant must have lived in South Carolina for one year.
  • If both parties are residents of South Carolina when the divorce is filed, the plaintiff must have lived in South Carolina for only three months before filing.
  • The divorce must be tried in the county the defendant lives in when the case is filed or in the county where the plaintiff lives if the defendant lives in another state.
  • So, to get a divorce in South Carolina, you must live in the state for a year and file in the county in which you reside.

It is obvious that even the residency requirements can be confusing, reinforcing the need for a family law attorney.

What are Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina?

  • South Carolina has grounds for divorce, though many choose to file no fault.
    • To file no fault, you must live apart for a year, with no cohabitation for that year.
    • You must live in separate homes because in South Carolina it is a requirement for you cannot stay in the same home and file for a no fault.
  • You can also file for a fault, adultery, desertion for at least one year, physical cruelty and constant drunkenness, including addiction to a narcotic drug.
    • For adultery, one person admitting it does not qualify as proof, so most likely you will have to hire a private detective to gather evidence of the adultery.
    • You must prove inclination and opportunity.
    • Desertion or abandonment means that contact and support have been completely cut off.
    • To prove physical cruelty, you will need to have proof of abuse like medical records or doctor reports. One incident is not enough to charge physical cruelty. The pattern of abuse must be repetitive.
    • In South Carolina, mental or verbal abuse is not a grounds for a divorce.
    • Habitual drunkenness is not getting drunk every Friday night or even every weekend. The drunkenness or drug abuse must be daily. This pattern of everyday behavior prevents your partner from doing everyday, normal living activities. The act must be proven to have caused the breakdown of the marriage, and it must be active at the time of filing for divorce.

It is not enough for one party or the other to own the behavior in an at-fault divorce. You must have witnesses, evidence, and third-party testimony. Proving the fault can be emotional and draining. For this reason having a family law attorney is your best bet as he or she knows the laws and can manage the evidence in an objective manner. Having an attorney hire a private investigator makes more sense than you trying to have your spouse followed to be caught in the act.

Consult with a Divorce Law Attorney in South Carolina

Divorce is an emotional experience and having a qualified attorney who can deal with the case objectively makes the experience less painful. It is hard to end a life and begin a new one. It is hard to divide you years of your life, in an equitable way. How can you understand all the laws that regulate divorce?  The best advice for anyone who is contemplating divorce is to hire a qualified family law attorney to do the legal work for you.