The South Carolina Divorce Process
South Carolina Rules of Family Court (SCRFC) governs all procedural rules in Family Court. The SCRFC combines elements from South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, South Carolina Rules of Evidence, South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure for juvenile actions, South Carolina Rules of Evidence, and South Carolina Appellate Court Rules.
Every South Carolina divorce case begins with the filing of a Complaint in Family Court. The first step is to either file the complaint or answer the complaint.
Here are the South Carolina Family Court Rules:
- General Provisions – Rules 1-3
- Family Court Records – Rule 6
- Admissibility of Documents – Rule 7
- Appearance of Counsel – Rule 8
- Conduct at Hearings – Rule 9
- Judges’ Absence from State – Rule 10
- Jurisdiction of Judge of Adjoining Circuit – Rule 11
- Attorneys for Guardian Ad Litem – Rule 12
- Bench Warrants – Rule 13
- Rule to Show Cause – Rule 14
- Continuing Jurisdiction – Rule 16
- Failure to Answer – Rule 17
- Failure of Defendant to Counterclaim for Divorce – Rule 18
- Lis Pendens – Rule 19
- Financial Declaration – Rule 20
- Temporary Relief – Rule 21
- Interview with Child – Rule 22
- Presence or Testimony of Child – Rule 23
- Automatic Enforcement of Child Support and Periodic Alimony – Rule 24
- Discovery – Rule 25
- Orders – Rule 26
- Enforcement of Visitation – Rule 27
- Pre-Adjudicatory Detention (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 31
- Detention Hearing (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 32
- Transfer of Venue (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 33
- Waiver Hearing (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 34
- Adjudicatory Hearing (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 35
- Right to Counsel (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 36
- Dispositional Hearing (Juvenile Actions) – Rule 37
- Counsel and Guardian Ad Litem Fees in Abuse and/or Neglect Proceedings – Rule 41
- Appendix of Forms
South Carolina Family Court
All family court cases are heard “in family court.” This means there are judges who only hear family law cases. Family court judges are elected to six-year terms. The Judicial Merit Selection Commission considers the qualifications and fitness of candidates and submits the names to the general assembly. Then, the state legislators vote and elect judges for family court. There are sixteen judicial circuits in South Carolina. Family court judges rotate primarily from county to county within their resident circuits, but may also rotate outside their resident circuits. For the majority of cases, you will not know which judge will be hearing your case until the Friday before the week of your court date.
Each South Carolina family court case begins with the filing of these initial documents: Family Court Coversheet, Summons, Complaint, and Certificate of Exemption. Either party may request a temporary order by filing a motion along with the Complaint or Answer. A temporary order is an order issued while the case is pending before a final order is issued. The temporary order could be for spousal support and maintenance, child custody, child support, use of the marital home, payment of bills, attorney fees or any other matter.
Financial Declarations and Discovery
After the initial documents are filed, the next step in South Carolina divorce cases is the exchange of financial declarations and discovery. Discovery tools include interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions, depositions and subpoenas.
In South Carolina, parties in family court cases must participate in at least three hours of mediation unless they reach an agreement on all issues. Lawyers at Klok Law are also South Carolina certified family court mediators.
Trial Preparation and Trial
Most people do not go to trial. Approximately 90% of family court cases settle before trial. This last step in the process to prepare evidence and witnesses.