Divorce in South Carolina
How To Get A South Carolina Divorce
Divorce in South Carolina: Getting a divorce in South Carolina is not much different from divorce in other states; however, it does take some knowledge of both the laws and the steps necessary.
Before proceeding with any divorce case, both individuals involved in the divorce should first work out all of the issues surrounding the divorce, as an uncontested divorce is always the best option.
Almost all legal resources recommend hiring an attorney, but in an uncontested case, an attorney may not be needed.
When filing the divorce forms pro se, or without hiring an attorney, you should first begin the process by visiting many online resources such as the South Carolina Judicial Department’s website with all of the necessary forms and instructions available to anyone.
You should also visit the legislature’s website and read the full text of the laws covering divorce in South Carolina as this can familiarize you with all state requirements.
Finally, you should contact the clerk of the family court in the county where the divorce is being granted.
Each county may have unique requirements, and it is better to know all steps and requirements before filing.
The following steps are provided by the South Carolina Judicial Department as steps in the divorce in South Carolina process for an uncontested filing.
The only difference between contested and uncontested is the need for a court to make decisions on all or some of the issues involved.
Keep in mind that when children are involved and child issues are contested, state statutes require the parents to go through mediation to attempt to work out any issues involved. Some counties also require mediation for any contested issue.
1. Complete the first five divorce forms: Family Court Cover Sheet, Certificate of Exemption, Summons for Divorce, Complaint for Divorce, and the Financial Declaration Form. Completing these five forms means getting all data together such as finances and making all decisions covering children, assets, money, and property.
2. File the forms with the Clerk of the Family Court in the appropriate county.
3. Serve copies of the filed divorce forms to the spouse or the spouse’s attorney.
• The first method of serving is U.S. mail. This must be done using certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested, so a receipt is obtained.
• The second method of service is personal service. Personal service is where you serve your spouse and he or she signs an affidavit of service as proof that he or she has been served.
• The third method of service is by using the Sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s department will serve the papers and sign part of a form providing proof of service. This method will cost a fee.
• The final method is a Process Server. Process servers perform the same job mentioned above. They are generally listed in the phone book and serve the spouse providing proof of service.
4. After 35 days from the day the spouse was served, if he or she does not answer then the plaintiff should file an Affidavit of Default for Divorce, Request for Hearing, and the Return Receipt with the clerk of the court.
5. If the spouse provided an answer agreeing with every paragraph listed in the initial Complaint, then the plaintiff should file a Request for Hearing with the clerk of the court. If the spouse provided an answer disagreeing with anything, then the case is considered contested and an attorney should be engaged and/or mediation may be the next step.
6. Once the Notice of Hearing is returned from the Clerk’s office, the plaintiff needs to mail a copy to the non-filing spouse or defendant. This must be done at least 10 days prior to the hearing date.
7. The next step is to prepare for the divorce in South Carolina hearing by completing the Final Order of Divorce and the Report of Divorce. Bring someone to testify at the hearing that the filing spouse has lived separate and apart for up to one year, as this is the only uncontested ground.
8. At the hearing, both the plaintiff and the witness will testify. If the defendant attends the hearing, the judge will allow him or her to present their case and the plaintiff will have the opportunity to ask any questions.
9. At the end of the hearing, the judge will sign the Final Order for Divorce making the divorce final.
The above steps outline the South Carolina divorce forms and the general process of getting an uncontested divorce is South Carolina. As mentioned above, the only ground for an uncontested divorce is living separate and apart for one year or more.
Other grounds for divorce in South Carolina apply to contested cases and the involved parties should seek an attorney for representation.
• South Carolina Uncontested Divorce Forms Package from USLegal.
• Need a Family Lawyer? Free Attorney Referral Service by LegalMatch.
• Marital Separation Agreement DIY Software by Standard Legal.
• Document Preparation Services by our trained document preparers.