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February 5, 2020

How Long Does a Divorce Take in South Carolina?

Once you make the difficult decision to end a marriage, you don’t want to spend a long time in the divorce process. If you’re eager to get on with rebuilding your life, you may feel you need to complete your dissolution of marriage before that can happen. 

It is natural to have many questions when your relationship ends. One of the most common questions clients ask their attorneys concerns how long a divorce in South Carolina can take.

Length of the Divorce Process in South Carolina

There are several steps that can impact how long your divorce takes. The process begins with the filing of the complaint and summons and the submitting of paperwork to family court. The non-filing spouse is served and then has 30 days to reply.

Because of this, the first determiner of how long a divorce will take is whether both parties wish to end the union. If so, they may reply to the summons quickly and without a counterclaim. It can take about a month to two months for this process to be completed. It may take longer if there is a counterclaim and then a response.

The grounds for divorce can also impact how long the process takes. You can file on fault-based grounds in South Carolina if your case involves physical abuse, infidelity, or alcohol or drug abuse. In such situations, you can request a hearing in 90 days.

If you are seeking a no-fault divorce, South Carolina requires you to stay separated for one continuous year. If you have already been living apart for that long, you can go ahead and file for divorce. If not, you will need to wait a year.

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What Can Lengthen the Divorce

A significant factor in the timing equation depends on whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse agree to the end of the marriage and agree on property and financial arrangements, custody, child support and the other details, then you have an uncontested divorce. After the one-year separation, you can typically get divorced in two or three months, especially if both parties are eager to get paperwork filed promptly.

When disagreements arise regarding the divorce or the division of assets, child support, custody, visitation, alimony or any other part of the dissolution of the relationship, there can be substantial delays. In these cases, a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed to determine custody, and both sides may need months for discovery to gather evidence of finances and assets. Contested divorces can take a year or even longer.

Other Factors in the South Carolina Divorce Process

Numerous other factors can also impact your divorce proceedings. For example, your county family court docket may hear cases more quickly or slowly when compared with other counties.

Your attorney can also help determine how quickly your divorce proceeds. An attorney can advise you of ways to reduce the time you spend on your divorce, if possible. If you have concerns about your divorce timeline, contact Lauren Taylor Law.Lauren Taylor Law focuses on divorce, family law and complex legal issues surrounding divorce. Our law firm is committed to representing you with empathy and professionalism during this difficult stage of your life.