What is the Divorce Process in South Carolina?

If you don’t meet the following requirements for an uncontested divorce, or you have specific questions about your divorce case, consult with a skilled divorce attorney in your area. A family court judge can’t answer questions about your legal rights or your particular case.

In Greenville, South Carolina, you’re eligible to file for divorce if you or your spouse has lived in the state for at least one year before filing for your divorce. Also, you qualify to file for a divorce in the state if you and your spouse both reside in South Carolina and have resided there for at least three months before filing for divorce

South Carolina recognizes divorces on marital fault and no-fault grounds. Also, you and your spouse can get a “simple” or expedited divorce if you meet the residency requirement and the following criteria:

  • You’re filing on the ground of one year of continuous separation without living together during that year
  • You have no marital debt or marital property, or you have reached a marital settlement agreement on how to divide the marital property and/or marital debt, and
  • You and your spouse have no children and none are expected, or you have minor children together and have agreed on child custody arrangements, visitation, and child support.

If you meet the above requirements, then you can follow the steps below to fill out the forms for a simple divorce process.

On this page

What are The Steps to Getting a Divorce in Greenville, South Carolina?

To begin the South Carolina divorce process, you must fill out several divorce forms. Specifically, you must fill out the following divorce forms:

  • Family Court Cover Sheet
  • Certificate of Exemption
  • Complaint for Divorce
  • Summons for Divorce, and
  • Financial Declaration Form. However, make sure you don’t sign this form until you’re in front of a notary public.

The filing spouse is the “plaintiff,” and the responding spouse is the “defendant.” Some of the divorce forms may need to be signed while you’re in front of a Notary Public, so don’t sign these forms unless you’re in front of a Notary Public.

Schedule a free consultation with our divorce attorneys today.

After completing all the divorce forms, prepare at least three copies of each divorce document. The court will keep one copy, you’ll need one for your records, and you’ll need another copy for your spouse.

Filing Your Divorce Forms in South Carolina

Next, you must file your divorce papers with the Clerk of Family Court. You might choose one of three locations to file your divorce documents:

  • The county where you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse last shared a residence;
  • The county where your spouse resides at the time of filing for divorce, or
  • The county where you live if your partner isn’t a resident of South Carolina.

The Clerk of Court, Family Court Division, will charge a filing fee to file the papers. If you can’t pay the fee, file a Motion and Affidavit to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. If your motion is approved, you won’t have to pay any filing fees or Sheriff’s Office service fees.

Serving Your Divorce Forms in South Carolina

After filing your legal paperwork with the appropriate Clerk of Family Court, you must “serve” a copy of the Certificate of Exemption, Family Court Cover Sheet, Summons for Divorce, Financial Declaration, and the Complaint for Divorce Form to your spouse.

There are many ways to serve your spouse. For instance, any nonparty to the divorce case, who is aged 18 years or older, can hand-deliver the divorce paperwork to your spouse. Also, you can hire a process server or the sheriff who will probably charge you a service fee. If you and your spouse have reached an amicable agreement on divorce terms, your spouse may accept the service of the divorce papers. The party accepting service must fill an acceptance of service form for you to file with the family law court. This will act as proof that your spouse received the divorce forms and notice of the divorce case.

However, if your spouse is in the military or can’t be located, special service rules apply. You might have to ask the judge for permission to serve your spouse through publication or other means.

Court Hearing and Final Divorce Decree in South Carolina

Once you serve your spouse with divorce paperwork, count ahead 35 days after the day you served them and mark the date. On the 35th day, if your spouse has sent a formal response to your request for divorce or if you received a response that agrees with the divorce terms in your divorce complaint, then proceed with the final divorce.

If your spouse’s response contests or disputes any part of your request, you must proceed with your divorce case to trial. At trial, a family court judge will decide all issues in your divorce, including child custody, alimony, financial issues, child support, and equitable division of property. 

However, if you and your spouse agree on all divorce terms, the next step is to complete a hearing request and file an application for a default divorce. When you file the divorce papers, you must file other affidavits or a copy of your return receipt, which proves that you served your spouse properly – unless if you’ve already filed those forms.

Related: How Long Does a Divorce Take in South Carolina?

After filing the divorce forms, the Clerk of Family Court will mail you a Notice of Hearing with your court date. Once you receive this Notice of Hearing, you’ll need to mail a copy to your spouse. If you mail the Notice of hearing by certified mail, you must request for a return receipt. Once your soon-to-be-ex-spouse mails back the signed green card, you’ll need to fill out an Affidavit of Service of Mailing in front of a Notary Public. If your spouse returns the envelope and the green card unsigned, carry the returned envelope to your divorce hearing.

To prepare for the divorce hearing, you’ll need to complete a Report of Divorce or Annulment and a Final Order of Divorce. On the day of your temporary hearing, bring the documents mentioned above to court, along with your witness.

During the hearing, the family court judge will ask questions about your divorce documents, including questions about your separation and marriage. After the judge grants your divorce, they will sign the Final Order of Divorce, but your divorce isn’t final until the final order is signed and filed with the Clerk of Family Court.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Greenville, South Carolina?

Greenville considers both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. For a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must have lived apart and separate without cohabitation for at least one year.

For a fault-based divorce, South Carolina divorce laws recognize adultery, physical abuse, habitual Drunkenness or Drug Use, and desertion. However, it’s essential to note that desertion is rarely used as a ground for divorce in South Carolina because the spouses must have lived separate and apart for at least one year without cohabitation, just as is the requirement for a no-fault one-year continuous separation divorce. You and your spouse may get a divorce 90 days after the date you file for divorce, especially if a fault-based ground exists and you meet the burden of proof to prove that the fault-based ground exists.

DWhat is the Divorce Process in South Carolina

Further, you and your spouse can get a divorce 90 days after the date of filing if all divorce terms in the case are resolved on a final basis. It’s essential to note that divorce lawyers don’t have control over the family law court docket scheduling.

Is South Carolina an Alimony State?

When making an award of spousal maintenance or alimony, the family law court must consider all the following statutory factors:

  1. The length of the marriage and the ages of you and your spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate alimony action between the both of you;
  2. The emotion and physical state of each party;
  3. The educational background of each party, together with the need of each party for additional education or training to achieve their income potential;
  4. The earning potential and employment history of each party;
  5. The present and reasonably expected incomes of both spouses;
  6. The current and reasonably expected financial needs and expenses of both parties;
  7. The nonmarital property and marital property of the spouses includes any properties awarded to each spouse in the separate maintenance and divorce action;
  8. The custody of the children, particularly where circumstances render it appropriate that the custodial parent not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment is limited;
  9. Marital misconduct or fault of either or both spouses, whether used as a basis for a separation maintenance decree or divorce if the misconduct affects the economic circumstances of the parties, or led to the breakup of the marriage.
  10. The tax implications for each party because of the particular form of support awarded; and
  11. The extent and existence of any child support obligation or alimony obligations from a previous marriage or for any other reason of either spouse.

The South Carolina family law court may or may not award alimony to a spouse after taking the factors mentioned above into consideration.

Contact Our Seasoned Greenville Family Law Attorneys Today for Legal Advice!

Seeking a divorce from a spouse is a very complicated issue in Family Law that you shouldn’t attempt to navigate without legal counsel by your side. A lack of understanding of the underlying family law’s intricate and necessary evidence to support your divorce case can have substantial ramifications on your future. If you need immediate relief from your marriage or need answers from an experienced Greenville family law lawyer, please call us right away!!

If you live in Greenville, Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Moncks Corner, Folly Beach, James Island, West Ashley, or anywhere in South Carolina contact our skilled divorce attorneys today at (864) 475-9393 for a free initial consultation. 

Request a free consultation

Let's start with your
Free Case Evaluation

Hi , what type of case do you need help with today?

Please tell us about your case