South Carolina Divorce & Separation
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Legal separation and divorce are commonplace in all states, but you may not know that the laws governing these processes can vary widely from one state to the next. South Carolina is no exception, so you might naturally have some questions about the details of South Carolina divorce laws. What are the requirements for getting a separation or divorce in South Carolina? Are there any simplified or accelerated divorce procedures available in South Carolina? Is mediation a requirement before you can get a divorce in South Carolina? What is the law on South Carolina annulments? Find the answers to your South Carolina divorce questions here.
South Carolina Legal Separation:
Legal separations are allowed in South Carolina, generally on the same grounds and following the same procedures as divorce. The court will make orders with regard to any issues relating to the care and custody of minor children that may be involved, and any judgments made are always open for revision at the court’s discretion. This might be the case when, for example, one parent’s circumstances change and the needs of the children change as a result.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:
South Carolina allows only fault-based reasons for divorce. This means that the courts require a specific reason for the divorce filing. Fault-based grounds may include: adultery, desertion for a period of one year, physical cruelty, or habitual drunkenness, or both parties having lived separate and apart for more than one year.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
To file for divorce, the plaintiff must have been a South Carolina resident for at least three months, provided both parties are residents of the state at the time of filing. If only one party resides in South Carolina, the law states that the plaintiff must have been a resident for one year. Papers must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where either party resides.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
There are no major procedures in South Carolina that allow for simplified or special divorces. The one exception is no-fault divorces filed with 1) a petition signed by both parties, 2) a notarized separation agreement or marital settlement agreement, and 3) an affidavit swearing to the irretrievability of the marriage. These divorce actions are heard by the judge with no summons requirement and with a statutory eye toward a speedy resolution. Note also that some of the required documentation, particularly the separation agreement, is most prudently handled via mediation sessions out of court, and usually with attorney representation to ensure full legal accuracy. See our “Divorce Mediation” section below for more information.
South Carolina Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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Divorce Mediation in South Carolina:
South Carolina courts have the authority to order alternative dispute resolution when they see fit. A mediation session may be called to resolve matters that are still contested but which the court deems would ultimately be resolved with less acrimony in mediation rather than a courtroom setting. Where children are involved, mediation may be appropriate to help ensure they are properly cared for despite the differences of the parents.
South Carolina Annulment:
An annulment is a court declaration that a marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment decrees that the marriage was never valid to begin with, for reasons including: fraud, duress, one party’s minor status, or consanguinity.
South Carolina Online Divorce Services:
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South Carolina Divorce Laws & Resources