SOUTH CAROLINA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in South Carolina. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your SC divorce.|
- Time Frame: An uncontested divorce case where both parties agree and work together takes about three months to be finalized.
- Where to File: Family court. "State of South Carolina, the Family Court of the _____________ Judicial Circuit."
- State Statutes: Code of Laws of South Carolina, Chapter 3.
- Name of Action: Complaint for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Plaintiff, the filing spouse, and defendant, the other spouse.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault.
- Primary Documents Filed: Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Physical Separation Required: For no-fault, a one year separation.
- Separation Time to File: See no-fault.
- Legal Separation Permitted: South Carolina permits a legal separation.
- Grounds: No-Fault, which means living separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year; and Fault, which includes adultery, willful desertion for a period of one year; physical cruelty; and habitual drunkenness or drug abuse.
- Residency Requirement: Either the plaintiff or the defendant must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least one year. If both spouses are residents, however, the plaintiff is only required to have been residing in the state for three months.
- Mediation Required: Divorce mediation is mandatory in many South Carolina counties to decrease the caseload on the family courts. Spouses may be ordered to try and resolve their differences through mediation before a final hearing. Spouses may address a variety of issues through mediation and it can be canceled by either spouse or the mediator at anytime. Spouses who attend mediation are not required to reach an agreement, but they do have to participate and show a good faith effort to do so.
- Counseling Required: There is no provision in South Carolina for mandatory counseling.
- Parenting Classes Required: At the judge's discretion spouses may be ordered to attend parenting classes.
- Filing Fee: $150. (See SC Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: Failure to support the child may result in a contempt of court action and a jail sentence. To expedite collection, the court may garnish the payor parent's paycheck and workers compensation benefits, intercept state and federal income tax returns, report negative information to credit bureaus and suspend occupational, professional and driving licenses. More information about South Carolina Child Support Enforcement can be found at Child Support Services, Department of Social Services. The state has no statute of limitations on collecting back support. Tax refund interception is also used.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: South Carolina uses the Income Shares Model to determine the child support obligation the noncustodial parent must pay.
- Property Division: Equitable division means that the court divides property equitably, and it uses a dual classification regime.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is considered separate property.
- Attendance at Hearing: Yes. One spouse must attend the hearing and must also bring a witness who can testify that the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year. This can be a friend or relative.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Yes. Fault can reduce the share of the marital estate.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Personal service by hand delivery by sheriff or someone designated to serve process or substituted service by mail.
- Divorce Records: The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
In a South Carolina divorce, the filing spouse completes the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Form 0692 that records the divorce in the state's vital statistics. This is done at the very end of the divorce and it often required prior to the Judge signing the Final Decree of Divorce. Once recorded with the department, certified copies of the Report of Divorce are available from DHEC for divorces handed down between from July 1962 to current. A Report of Divorce is not a copy of the actual Final Decree. It is a simple record that the divorce took place and details some of the case information like the parties names, county filed in, and the actual divorce date. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is located at 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 2920. If a copy of an actual Final Decree of Divorce is needed, the best place to retrieve this is from the county clerks office where the divorce was filed and finalized.