An Overview of Divorce in South Carolina

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I DECIDE TO GET A DIVORCE? 

When going through a divorce or separation, many people find the process difficult. Life will no longer be the same. There are so many different emotions and affect every person in a different way. Just a few are guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, anger, revenge, and regret. To top it off most are overwhelmed. The legal process can be scary and tough to handle. The filing clerks can’t give you as you may try to muddle through the process. Dig in and find out information or book an appointment. Klok Law is your South Carolina divorce attorney and we are here to help.

 

You are searching for information and there is so much out there it is a challenge to break it down. Friends are giving you advice and share their divorce stories. Each story is different so you do not know what to expect for child support, spousal support and maintenance, or alimony. And who keeps the house?

 

Stop the sleepless nights! Klok Law will guide you through the basics.

HOW DO I GET DIVORCED? 

In South Carolina, there are five grounds for divorce:

1) Adultery

2) Desertion for one year

3) Physical Cruelty

4) Habitual drunkenness (also includes narcotic drug use)

5) Living separate and part without cohabitation for one year

 

See  S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-10. The reality is if one spouse wants a divorce, there is hardly anything you can do stop them. If the basis for a divorce is adultery, physical cruelty or habitual drunkenness, you do not have to wait the one year to file for divorce.

 

If you have to wait one year before you can divorce, you are not left high and dry. You can file an action for separate support and maintenance.

WHAT IS SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE? 

In South Carolina, there is no “legal separation.” Do not worry. Instead of filing for divorce, you can for separate support and maintenance where all the issues that you would raise in a divorce action will be ruled on by the family court except for the divorce itself. To qualify, you and your spouse must be living apart.  You cannot live in the same house but in separate bedrooms. You have to have separate dwellings. 

WHAT IS THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR A SOUTH CAROLINA DIVORCE OR SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE? 

In order to file for divorce in South Carolina, you must meet one of these conditions:

The plaintiff must have resided in South Carolina for at one year before filing, or

 

1) If the plaintiff is a non-resident, then the defendant must have resided in South Carolina for at least one year before filing, or

 

2) If both parties are residents of South Carolina, the plaintiff must have resided in South Carolina for three months before filing.

 

3) As to active service military members stationed in South Carolina, you are treated as a “resident” or “resided” in South Carolina regardless of your intent to permanently remain in South Carolina or not.

 

See S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-30 .

WHERE DO I FILE? 

In South Carolina, if you file for divorce, or for separate support and maintenance, you must file:

 

  1. In the county where the defendant resides at the time you file, or
  2. In the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non-       resident or cannot be found after due diligence, or
  3. In the county in which the plaintiff and defendant last resided together as husband and wife unless the plaintiff is a non-resident (unless the plaintiff is a non-resident, then in the county in which the defendant resides).

 

S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-60.

DOES SOUTH CAROLINA HAVE COMMON LAW MARRIAGE? 

The South Carolina legislature recognizes common law marriage. See S.C. Code Ann. §20-3-260. A common law marriage is the same as any other marriage in South Carolina. There is no time period requirement to create a common law marriage.  You do not need to wait seven years, or any other period of time.  You can be common law married after one day or after thirty years.  A common law marriage is formed when:

 

  1. Both parties must intend to be married to each other and have “a mutual understanding of each party’s intent.”
  2. There must be no impediment to marriage, meaning you cannot be married if you are already  married to someone else or you marry your brother or sister.
  3. The parties live together.
  4. The parties hold themselves out to the public that they are married.

 

See Callen vs Callen, 365 S.C. 618, 620 S.E. 2d 59 (2005).

IS MILITARY DIVORCE ANY DIFFERENT? 

A military divorce is no different than any other divorce in South Carolina except that if one party is on active duty the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act will apply. In that case, the court may delay the action for not less than ninety days. However, a Servicemember may not delay the proceedings indefinitely. 

WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE? 

In a collaborative divorce, both parties have attorneys focusing on resolving divorce, child custody, support, and division of marital property and debt without litigating issues in court. It is a team approach that can include other professionals besides attorneys. The team members can include divorce coaches, financial neutrals and child specialists. A fundamental part of collaborative divorce is that all the parties agree that if they cannot resolve the issues and decide to litigate the issues in family, their existing lawyers will not represent them in litigation.  If collaborative law is for you Klok Law is collaboratively trained and certified. 

WHAT IS COOPERATIVE DIVORCE? 

Cooperative divorce is very similar to collaborative divorce. The key difference is that if the parties cannot agree they are not required to find and pay a new lawyer.  Changing representation is expensive and takes time to find another good fit with an attorney. Cooperative divorce is focused on resolution and not litigation but affords you the flexibility of going to court to resolve issues, if needed.

 

When you reach the end of your rope, call or book online with Klok Law.  We are your trusted South Carolina divorce attorneys.

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