South Carolina recognizes two different types of divorce, uncontested divorce and contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is also known as a simple divorce in the state. Simple divorces take place when both spouses agree on the requirements put in place to end the marriage. These divorces tend to be considerably quicker and less expensive than contested divorces, and are often simple to process. In some cases, however, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer may still be the best option.
Working with an attorney well-versed in family law can help you ensure that the uncontested divorce process runs as smoothly as possible. They will be able to help you stay on top of any deadlines, fill out and file your divorce paperwork properly, and address any issues that may arise as they enter the equation. Contact an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney at Greenville Family Attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.
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Requirements to Get an Uncontested Divorce
South Carolina divorce laws lay out a number of requirements that you must meet in order to file for a simple divorce:
You are required to have lived in the state of South Carolina for a minimum of 3 months prior to filing for divorce, so long as both spouses currently reside in the state. In the event that your spouse lives in a different state, you must have lived in South Carolina for a full year prior to filing.
The state of South Carolina recognizes several grounds for divorce, but only one that isn’t based on misconduct from one or both spouses. This requirement is separate living situations between the two for a minimum of one year. This means that you and your spouse must maintain and live in separate residences during this time. It is important to note that living in separate bedrooms of the same house will not meet this requirement, the dwellings must be independent of one another.
Property Division Requirements
In order to file for a simple divorce in South Carolina, you and your spouse must meet the requirements for the division of property. To meet this requirement, you and your spouse must have an agreement in place on how the marital property and debt will be divided after the divorce. If you do not have any marital debt or property, you do not need to worry about this requirement.
Child Support Requirements
To file for a simple divorce you must reach an agreement with your spouse detailing child support, visitation guidelines, and child custody. This requirement also covers any children that were conceived prior to filing. If you and your spouse have no minor children, this requirement does not apply.
While a family lawyer cannot represent both spouses in a divorce, hiring an experienced divorce attorney can help you negotiate the different agreements you must have in place before filing for a simple divorce. Keep in mind that if you do not meet the requirements listed above you will be required to file for a contested divorce instead.
Do You Have to Go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce?
You will be required to appear in court for an uncontested divorce. While there is no trial, a hearing is required in order to finalize the divorce proceeding. This hearing is typically a quick process in which the filing party’s attorney will call on witnesses to testify in front of a judge regarding the marriage. This process usually requires 2 witnesses: the spouse filing for divorce, and a family friend or parent to confirm that the spouses have met the separation requirements for a simple divorce.
Request Your Hearing
Before you can have your divorce hearing one of the following must have occurred:
- Your spouse must have formally responded to your divorce filing and agreed to the terms listed in your complaint
- Your spouse has failed to formally respond to the filing within 35 days of receiving it
Once one of these criteria is met, you may file a request for a hearing with the family court. You will be notified by mail when your court date is set, and you are required to mail a copy of the Notice of Hearing to your spouse.
Finalize Your Divorce
Prior to going to your hearing, you must fill out a Final Order of Divorce as well as a Report of Divorce. You will need to bring these forms, as well as your witness who will testify to the separate living situations of you and your spouse, to court for your hearing. A family court judge will question you and your witness regarding your marriage as well as your separation before deciding on the validity of the divorce. If your divorce is granted, the judge will sign your Final Order of Divorce and file it with the court clerk.
How Much Will an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The cost of divorce varies from one case to another in South Carolina. The primary factors to take into account when calculating your divorce costs are the experience of the attorney you hire and how complex your particular case is.
Divorces that involve no children, asset division, and have the agreement of both spouses will require far less time than divorces in which assets need to be divided and child custody and support need to be negotiated. It should come as no surprise that quicker divorce proceedings that require less of a time investment from your attorney will be cheaper than complicated cases.
Benefits of Getting a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce
You can certainly file for a simple divorce without retaining the services of an attorney. It is usually in your best interest, however, to have a qualified lawyer look over your agreements with your spouse to be sure your best interests are being looked after. They will also be able to help you fill out and file your divorce papers and other legal documents correctly to avoid any unnecessary delays to your case.
This can be a critical benefit when dealing with a child support agreement, as they must meet the guidelines put in place by the state. Having a South Carolina child support lawyer review this before you submit it can allow you to be certain the court will accept your agreement when you submit it.
Work With an Experienced South Carolina Divorce Lawyer
A qualified divorce attorney at Greenville Family Attorneys can provide you with legal representation throughout your divorce action. We can help you file your divorce documents, negotiate your agreements, serve your spouse with the Notice of Hearing, and offer you representation during your divorce hearing. Call us today or schedule an appointment online for a free initial consultation to see how we can help you navigate the simple divorce process.