Although getting a divorce in South Carolina tended to be challenging in the past, today the proceedings are generally much easier. Here’s what the divorce process will look like if you choose to proceed with your divorce in South Carolina.
Step One: Filing for Divorce
In South Carolina, you can file for divorce if you or your spouse has lived in the state for at least one year. If you both are residents of South Carolina when you file for divorce, you can file within only three months of residency.
You can file on no-fault grounds, in which no party is blamed for the divorce, or fault grounds, which include adultery, drug or alcohol abuse, desertion, or physical abuse.
If your spouse does not live in South Carolina but you do, you can file in your own current county of residence. If, however, you both are still residents of South Carolina, you must file in the county in which you both last lived together. If your spouse lives in South Carolina but you do not, you must file in their county of residence.
Step Two: Serving Complaint and Response
Your divorce complaint must be filed with the court and then served to your spouse along with a summons, which explains that they must accept and answer the complaint within 35 days after being served the complaint.
If your spouse does not answer or if you receive an answer in agreement with your complaint, you can move forward. If your spouse disagrees, you’ll need to hire an attorney to move forward.
Step Three: Coming to an Agreement
You and your spouse will either need to agree on the terms of the divorce or a judge will decide on the terms for you.
If you and your spouse agree, this is called an uncontested divorce. You’ll both need to agree on items such as custody of the children, child support, and splitting of your assets, including property and finances.
If you and your spouse cannot agree, this is a contested divorce, which can take a year or more to be settled. The court may even appoint an official to help them make the right decision about child custody, which can take several months.
Step Four: Final Hearing
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, a judge will rule the final hearing and your divorce will be granted. You’ll need a witness to testify that you and your spouse have lived apart for one year. Once this hearing is complete, your divorce will be official in about two to three months.
Although seeking a divorce can feel like an urgent matter, it’s essential that you make the right decision for both you and your children now and in the future. Don’t rush and be sure to cover all the details. You’ll never regret taking a little more time to ensure you’re making the right decisions in your divorce!