How to Serve Divorce Papers in SC

Getting to the decision of getting a divorce is not easy. Most of the time, couples have tried to work it out and have eventually had to go their separate ways after all else failed. Suppose you have considered other options and tried to get solutions for your marriage but have decided to get a divorce. In that case, you may be wondering about the process of how to serve divorce papers in SC.

If, as a couple, you have agreed to get a divorce, you want to maybe look to ensure that the process is inexpensive and speedy. The good thing about the process for divorce in South Carolina is that it is reasonably straightforward, specifically if it is an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is when you and the other party agree concerning issues revolving around the divorce. Major issues that can drag the divorce process are property division and child custody.

When you agree on all issues, you will need to complete filling in the appropriate divorce papers to your local court so the process can get started. Suppose you have questions concerning your divorce case or the divorce hearing. In that case, you should consult a divorce lawyer in Greenville before you get to family court.

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The Procedure of Filing for a Divorce in South Carolina

The first step in the procedure of filing for divorce is submitting the relevant papers to your county court. After that, you then have to wait for your spouse to respond. After filing a summons and complaint for divorce, you will then submit the paperwork to a clerk at the county family court. A personal delivery can be made through a process server, so the other party is served. You will need to pay a filing fee and a delivery fee to the clerk of South Carolina legal services. 

After the spouse has received the papers, they have thirty days from the day they have been served to respond and make a counterclaim. If the other spouse makes a counterclaim, the party that filed for divorce will also have thirty days to respond to the counterclaim. Minus the time that a person will take to draft the complaint and summon, for the papers to get to the clerk, and for the other spouse to get served the divorce filling. It can take around 60 days for spouses to respond to being served and make a divorce counterclaim.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in SC

The basis on which the divorce is being filed will also determine how long the divorce process can take. If you are filing for a fault-based divorce, it can take approximately ninety days, and you can then ask for a hearing at the end of the ninety days. The grounds for divorce in a fault grounds divorce can include physical abuse, drug addiction, habitual drunkenness, and other issues.

Before filing a no-fault divorce, you will have to wait for 365 days. For a divorce to be filed, you have to have lived separately with your spouse for a period of one year.

Other issues that will determine how long the divorce process will take is whether it is a contested divorce process or an uncontested divorce.

An uncontested divorce is one where the couple agrees on everything. They agree on child custody, child support, and how they will split their assets and finances. An uncontested divorce will mostly come about after a couple has been separated for a period of one year. After separation, the whole process of filing for divorce and the court process for divorce can take two to three months. Suppose a divorce hearing is set and there is a failure of appearance by the defendant, especially in a fault divorce. In that case, a default divorce will be granted.

A contested divorce hearing will involve solving disputes about child support, child custody, property division, alimony, and other marital issues that couples cannot agree on. A contested divorce can take a year or longer while trying to seek a solution. This is because there may be a need for investigations, and witnesses may be brought into a family law court.

Who Can Serve Divorce Papers in South Carolina

Any of the spouses can file for divorce. The spouse who files for the divorce is known as the plaintiff, and the one who gets served is known as the defendant. A divorce attorney can as well file for a divorce on behalf of their client. For an individual to file for a divorce in South Carolina, they have to ensure that they meet one or at least several requirements.

  • You or your spouses have to have lived in South Carolina for at least one year before you filed for a divorce.
  • You and your spouse live in South Carolina and have lived there for three months before filing for a divorce.

It is important to note that under South Carolina’s divorce laws, you can file for both a fault-based and a no-fault-based divorce. If you meet the residency requirement in South Carolina and want a simple divorce process, here are some of the conditions that you should meet.

  • Both parties already agree on how they should divide marital property or marital debt, or they do not have marital property /debt, or they have a marital settlement agreement
  • Separating on the grounds for divorce on a continuous separation period of time of one year
  • If you have minor children together and have agreed on all issues concerning them. That is child support, visitation, and custody
  • You have no children together and are not expecting to have any children together.
A man being served divorce papers.

The above grounds for divorce can lead to a speedy divorce process.

How to Prepare Your Forms

You will need to fill out specific divorce paperwork to get started with the divorce process. For the production of documents to fill in, you can find numerous divorce forms on the South Carolina Judicial Branch website. Here are some of the standard divorce papers that you will need to fill out.

  • Complaint for divorce
  • Family court cover sheet
  • Summons for divorce
  • Financial Declaration form
  • Forms for alimony
  • Certificate of Exemption

There will be blank spaces in all of these forms for the defendant and plaintiff to fill in. The spouse requesting the divorce is known as the plaintiff, and the one who responds to the request for divorce is the defendant. Some of these forms, like the financial declaration form, should be signed in front of a Notary public. Do not sign the form until you are in front of a Notary public.

After you are done filling the forms, you should make several copies to ensure that the court and your spouse have a copy of the document.

How Long Can it Take For Divorce Papers to be Filled

The filing process of divorce papers can take a short time or a longer time. It will depend on whether you and your spouse are in agreement and how accessible your partner is. If the filing process goes smoothly, the divorce filing process can take 30 days at most from the time of filing.

You can consult a family law attorney who can give you legal advice and more information about how to serve divorce papers in SC in an initial consultation. You can talk to them about South Carolina divorce laws & questions that will help you understand what your next step should be at every stage. At Greenville Family Attorneys, we are always ready to help. Call (864) 475-9393 today to book your consultation. 

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