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South Carolina Divorce Information | SC Divorce Forms

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This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of South Carolina. An uncontested divorce in SC is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.

With 3StepDivorce TM you will complete and print your SC divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Then, follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in SC in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.

Online Divorce FAQ: South Carolina

Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court's requirements for the next steps you'll need to take.

Traditionally, most people hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that's still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.

If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in South Carolina.

How Does Online Divorce Work in South Carolina?

South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you'll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that's needed. You'll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.

Can I File for Divorce in South Carolina?

South Carolina has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and–for most couples–a year-long separation requirement.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in South Carolina?

South Carolina's residency requirement for divorce depends on whether both you and your spouse live in the state when you file your divorce papers–not where you were married.

  • If both spouses live in the state, the one who starts the divorce process (the “plaintiff”) must have lived in South Carolina for at least three months just before filing the papers.
  • If one spouse lives in another state, the plaintiff must have lived in South Carolina for at least a year before filing.

(S.C. Code §20-3-30 (2022).)

Does South Carolina Require a Long Separation Before Divorce?

Like all states, South Carolina requires you to declare a legal reason (or “ground) for divorce in your initial paperwork. Unlike most other states, however, South Carolina doesn't allow you simply to state that your marriage is permanently broken or that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences.” If you want to file for a “no-fault” divorce, you and your spouse must have lived “separate and apart” for a year before you filed the initial paperwork. That means that you lived in separate residences the entire time, with no “overnights.” You'll need to prove that you met this requirement by bringing a witness to your final divorce hearing who can testify under oath about the witness's personal knowledge of your separation.

The only other legal divorce grounds in South Carolina are based on claims that your spouse engaged in misconduct–specifically, adultery, physical abuse, desertion (for a year), or habitual substance abuse. But when you file for divorce based on one of these “fault” grounds, you'll have to prove your claims in court proceedings, and your case won't qualify as an “uncontested divorce” (more on that below). (S.C. Code §§ 20-30-10 (2022).)

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in South Carolina?

Many South Carolinians are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they're filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they've agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:

  • how to divide their property and debts
  • alimony, and
  • child custody, visitation, and child support (if they have minor children).

If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you'll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you–especially if your spouse has an attorney.

Can I Use South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ in my Situation?

We follow standard procedures for uncontested, DIY divorces based on the local process. Our service requires both parties to be cooperative and in full agreement. Therefore, our services use no-fault grounds (for example, "irreconcilable differences") and each party will waive certain procedural rights.

We cannot accommodate cases that involve: existing cases or support orders; domestic violence; restraining orders; contested issues; missing spouses; protected addresses; common law marriages; dissolution of registered domestic partnerships; pregnancy; temporary or retroactive support orders; lack of jurisdiction over the children under the UCCJEA; exclusive jurisdiction over the case by another court; third-party child custody or support; or children who are emancipated or otherwise not dependent on the parties. Some cases may require additional forms or filing requirements that are not provided by our service, including but not limited to cases involving: filing fee waivers; change in address; recipients of public assistance; division or transfers of retirement accounts; and multiple visitation plans.

What If My Spouse and I Can't Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?

Just because you haven't been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you're able to reach a settlement agreement with the mediator's help, you can then use South Carolina 3StepDivorce™.

Can I Get an Online Divorce in South Carolina If I Have Children?

Generally, you can use South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you'll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.

However, you won't be able to address custody-related issues with South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don't meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in South Carolina with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). If you don't meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule. (S.C. Code §§ 63-15-302, 63-15-330 (2022).)

How Will My Online Divorce in South Carolina Deal With Child Support?

In South Carolina, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, South Carolina has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.

3StepDivorce™ provides the South Carolina Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will review your agreement to determine if the amount of support is reasonable and is in your children's best interests, and if both parents fully understand their agreement and its implications. (S.C. Code § 63-17-470 (2022).)

In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse can also include child support provisions that aren't legally required, such as a parent's contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child's college education. You can also agree on some specific future events that will trigger a change in child support, such as when you'll no longer need to pay for child care.

Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?

After your divorce in South Carolina is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you'll need to show that your circumstances have changed significantly. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order. (S.C. Code § 63-17-830 (2022).)

If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. (If you have an agreement, the South Carolina Department of Social Services may help make it official with the court.)

How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?

When you fill out your questionnaire for South Carolina 3StepDivorce™, you'll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you'll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.

What About the Family Home?

If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:

  • selling the house and splitting the proceeds
  • transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse's share, or
  • continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you'll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).

What About Retirement Accounts?

In your South Carolina 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you'll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.

If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you'll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You'll almost always need this kind of expert help when you're dealing with a defined-benefit pension.

Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here's how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don't have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that's needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.

The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse's share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse's name. (You'll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)

Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in South Carolina?

You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your South Carolina divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.

How Do I File My Divorce Papers in South Carolina?

When you get your completed forms with South Carolina 3StepDivorce™,your next step will be to take three copies of the paperwork to the court clerk in the Family Court Division. The county where you file the papers will depend on where you and your spouse live:

  • If you don't live in South Carolina, you must file in the county where your spouse lives.
  • If your spouse lives out of state (or can't be located), you'll file in the county where you live.
  • If both you and your spouse live in South Carolina, you may file in the county where your spouse lives or where the two of you last lived together as a couple.

(S.C. Code § 20-3-60 (2022).)

(Learn more about the process of filing for divorce in South Carolina.)

How Much Is South Carolina's Filing Fee for Divorce?

The South Carolina courts charge a fee to file the divorce papers (currently $150).

What If I Can't Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?

If you can't afford South Carolina's filing fee for divorce, you may file an application for a fee waiver (a “Motion and Affidavit to Proceed in Forma Pauperis”). The court will let you know if your request is approved.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in South Carolina?

Once you've made it through the one-year separation period required for uncontested online divorce in South Carolina, you may get your final divorce fairly quickly. The spouse who files the initial divorce complaint (known as the “plaintiff” in South Carolina) will need to “serve” the other spouse with the divorce papers as soon as possible.

Then, the plaintiff may request a hearing on the divorce as soon as either of the following:

  • when the other spouse (the “defendant”) files a formal answer, or
  • if the defendant has chosen not to file an answer, after more than 30 days have passed since the divorce papers served.

(S.C. Code § 20-3-80 (2022).)

Once you get a date (which will depend on the court's schedule) and appear at the hearing, the judge could sign your divorce judgment and final order that day–as long as everything is in order. Once those forms are filed with the court clerk, your South Carolina divorce will be final.

How Can I Get More Help With South Carolina Online Divorce?

South Carolina 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, e-mail us at [email protected].

Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about South Carolina law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

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