< Call

What Happens During the Divorce Court Process in South Carolina?

south carolina divorce court process

Divorce can be a complicated process, and it can be overwhelming for both parties involved. One of the most significant parts of a divorce is the Family Court Process, which involves dividing assets, determining alimony and child support, and deciding on child custody arrangements.

If you are going through a divorce in South Carolina, it is essential to understand the divorce court process and what to expect. We will walk you through the steps involved in the South Carolina divorce court process.

You don’t have to face the legal process of ending your marriage alone. Enlist the help of an Anderson divorce lawyer at Steele Family Law in South Carolina and ensure your rights and future are protected.

Understanding the Basics of the Divorce Court Process in South Carolina

South Carolina is a “fault” state regarding divorce. This means that one party must prove the other party is responsible for the marriage breakdown.

Examples of grounds for divorce in South Carolina include:

  • Adultery
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug use
  • Desertion for one year
  • Living separately for one year (no-fault ground)

In South Carolina, the court divides marital property according to the “equitable distribution” principle. This means that the court will divide assets and liabilities fairly but not necessarily equally. South Carolina courts also consider alimony, child support, and child custody arrangements during the divorce process.

Steps Involved in the Divorce Process in South Carolina

  1. Filing for divorce — The first step in the divorce process in South Carolina is filing a petition for divorce. The person who files for divorce is the “plaintiff,” and the other party is the “defendant.” The plaintiff must state the grounds for the divorce in the petition.
  2. Service of process — After filing for divorce, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with the divorce papers. This means that the defendant must be given a copy of the divorce papers, along with a summons, which informs them that they are being sued for divorce.
  3. Response to the petition — Once the defendant has been served with the divorce papers, they have thirty days to file a response. The response can either be an answer, in which the defendant admits or denies the allegations in the petition, or a counterclaim, in which the defendant files their own claims against the plaintiff. Often, the defendant will file both.
  4. Temporary hearings — If the divorce involves issues such as child custody, child support, or alimony, the court may hold a temporary hearing to determine these issues while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders can be modified or terminated once the final divorce decree is entered.
  5. Discovery — Discovery is the process of exchanging information and documents related to the divorce. This can include financial documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, and documents related to child custody and support.
  6. Mediation — South Carolina courts require the parties to participate in mediation before the divorce can proceed to trial. Mediation is when a neutral third party helps the parties reach a settlement agreement.
  7. Final hearing — If the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, the divorce will proceed to a final hearing. At the final hearing, the court will hear evidence from both parties and decide on issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.

Can I Get a Divorce Without Going to Court in South Carolina?

Getting a divorce without going to court in South Carolina is possible if the parties can reach a settlement agreement on their own. The parties can negotiate and come to an agreement on issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support.

Once an agreement is reached, the parties can submit it to the court for approval, and the divorce can be granted without needing a trial.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the time it takes to get a divorce depends on various factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and whether the parties can reach a settlement agreement.

If the divorce is uncontested and the parties can agree on all issues, the process can take as little as three months. However, if the divorce is contested and goes to trial, it can take much longer, sometimes up to a year or more.

Need Legal Help Navigating the South Carolina Divorce Court Process?

The divorce process in South Carolina can be a challenging and emotional time for both parties involved. It’s essential to understand the steps involved in the process to prepare yourself for what’s to come. By following these steps, you can confidently navigate the divorce court process in South Carolina.

If you’re facing divorce in the Palmetto state, Steele Family Law in Anderson, SC, will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and you get the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Author Bio

Greg Steele is CEO and Managing Partner of Steele Family Law, a South Carolina estate planning and family law firm. With years of experience in practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody and support, estate planning, probate, and other legal cases.

Greg received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia and is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40 in 2022.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google