Navigating through a divorce in South Carolina is different than in other states. While many people hope to move forward with their lives and finalize their separation as quickly as possible, there is a waiting period for fault and no-fault divorces.
In the case of fault-based divorces, there is a 90 day waiting period before a final trial. This kind of divorce applies to circumstances involving behavior such as adultery or physical abuse. A judge can use the fault in several processes, including dividing up properties and granting alimony.
For no-fault divorces, there is a one-year waiting period before the final trial. Neither spouse is responsible for presenting or proving instances of marital misconduct. In a no-fault divorce, a couple typically notes irreconcilable differences or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the primary reason for the separation.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
Divorces are differentiated by whether they are uncontested or contested.
In an uncontested divorce in South Carolina, also called a simple divorce, both spouses agree on all the issues necessary to end the marriage. The separation does not need to go to trial in front of a judge, and the process is usually faster when a couple decides to take the uncontested route.
The requirements for an uncontested divorce in South Carolina include the following:
- Residential status: Before filing for divorce, both spouses have lived in South Carolina for at least one year, or both currently live in South Carolina and have for at least three months.
- No-fault divorce: The spouses are filing for a no-fault divorce, noting that they’ve been living separately for at least one year without residing together at any point.
- Property or debt: The couple shares no marital property or debt, or the couple has already agreed on how to divide property or debt.
- Parental statuses: There are no shared children, and neither spouse is pregnant. If the couple shares a minor child, they must agree on custody, visitation and support that meets the minimum requirements in South Carolina.
If a couple does not agree on all the aspects of the divorce, this is a contested divorce. The requirements are different. The two spouses may need mediation or litigation to come to mutual agreements and resolve important issues.
This kind of divorce usually takes longer than uncontested divorce since a judge will hold a trial. In the trial, the court will examine the evidence in the divorce hearing and call witnesses. The process’s speed and ease depend on how amicable the spouses are regarding coming to agreements and resolving disputes.
When filing for divorce in South Carolina, a judge can grant you a contested or fault-based divorce if your spouse is guilty of one or more of the grounds for separation.
What Are Grounds for Divorce in SC?
If you are interested in getting a divorce in South Carolina, there are certain requirements that your marriage must meet before a judge can grant you and your spouse the separation. Your marriage must include one or more of the following five grounds for divorce in South Carolina. These grounds can affect other aspects of the divorce, from child custody to the division of property. You will also need to provide evidence for each.
If one of the spouses engages in habitual drinking, which creates a breakdown in the relationship, this is an accepted ground for divorce in South Carolina. A spouse must prove habitual drunkenness through one of the following:
- Rehabilitation treatments
- One or more DUIs
- Evidence of alcohol abuse
- Testimony from family members with personal knowledge
This ground for divorce involves one spouse deserting or abandoning the other. In this case, one of the spouses has no idea how to reach the other or does not know the other spouse’s location. An example of desertion may include a spouse changing their phone number and moving to an unknown city.
Adultery is a common but sometimes complicated reason for couples to separate and file for divorce. In South Carolina, a person proves adultery through both opportunity and inclination for extramarital affairs.
Because proving adultery can get complex, reaching out to an experienced Charleston divorce lawyer can help you better understand and navigate the process.
In the case of physical cruelty, the spouse will exhibit a history of abuse that has influenced the breakdown of the marriage. This is not the same as emotional abuse. A person can prove physical cruelty through any police reports or hospital records that have resulted from the abuse.
The most common ground for divorce is living separately. In South Carolina, you and your spouse must live apart continuously for 365 days. If you and your spouse reconcile, even for a single night, the 365-day count will restart, and you will have to wait for another full year period before the state grants you a divorce.
SC Divorce Process Overview
The process of filing for divorce in South Carolina generally follows a series of steps. Each step can affect the timeline of the divorce proceedings and change the course of your case. Depending on this process, finalizing a separation can take a few months to over a year. The process involves the following:
- Filing for divorce: In South Carolina, divorces begin when a spouse files a summons and complaint for divorce. Before being served to the other spouse, an attorney sends the paperwork to the family court clerk. Once the other spouse receives the papers, they have 30 days to offer a counterclaim. If they choose to assert a counterclaim, there is an additional 30 day period for the filing spouse to respond.
- Identifying grounds for the divorce: Divorces in South Carolina fit into two categories — fault and no-fault. A fault divorce in South Carolina has a 90 day waiting period after filing for divorce. This kind of divorce requires specified grounds. No-fault divorces have a 365 day waiting period after filing, meaning you and your spouse must be living separately for at least one year.
- Understanding uncontested versus contested: A divorce proceeding’s pace largely depends on whether the separation is uncontested or contested. Uncontested or simple divorces typically move quicker through the system. In South Carolina, contested divorces are more complicated and usually take longer. For example, if the couple disputes the separation of assets or child support, the process takes more time.
- Joining the family court docket in your county: The speed of your family court docket depends on the caseload in your specific county. Some counties work and move cases through the processing faster.
- Handling the divorce: How each spouse and their attorneys handle the divorce proceedings will impact the speed of the case. Amicability and coming to agreements can be especially time-consuming in contested divorces.
Contact Lauren Taylor Law to Learn More About Our SC Divorce Services
Understanding divorce in South Carolina is easier with an experienced attorney on your side. If you’re in the Charleston or Greenville areas and looking to take the next step in your divorce, Lauren Taylor Law is here for you. We will walk you through the process and answer any of your questions along the way.
Do you have additional questions or concerns about South Carolina’s divorce process? Lauren Taylor of Lauren Taylor Law has the experience and expertise to help. During any kind of divorce, it is important to have proper counsel and support while navigating through the proceedings. Lauren Taylor has been practicing family law in the Charleston, South Carolina, area since opening her firm in 2012. Count on us to craft a strategy tailored to your case’s needs.
Contact Lauren Taylor Law today to schedule a consultation. You can also call our office at 843-790-9009 .
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor practices family law in Charleston and Greenville. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for more than ten years.
Since the firm’s inception in 2012, Mrs. Taylor has helped hundreds of people navigate the uncertainties surrounding the family and criminal court process.
She has cultivated a team that ensures each case has a strategy crafted specifically to the clients needs and desires.
Her commitment to top notch service has led her to open two additional offices in the low country where she now resides with her husband Michael and her golden retriever, Buster.