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Divorce FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in South Carolina

Get answers from knowledgeable family law attorneys in Mount Pleasant

At Barker Family Law, our attorneys understand how difficult ending a marriage can be, and we know that you are likely to have questions about the process in South Carolina. That’s why we’ve included answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients about divorce in our state.

If you’re considering divorce, we’re here to answer your questions and help ensure you understand your rights and the legal process. We offer a free consultation so that you can proceed with confidence in our ability to represent your interests.

Contact an established Mt. Pleasant divorce attorney for a consultation

At Barker Family Law, our attorneys offer consultations on marriage and divorce questions. Call us at 843-640-0532 or contact us online. From our Mount Pleasant office, we represent clients in the courts of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.

What are the grounds for divorce?

In South Carolina, divorce will be granted if one or more of the following occurred:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for a period of one year
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness or narcotic abuse
  • The couple has lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year (a no-fault ground)

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What is the residency requirement for divorce?

If both of you are South Carolina residents at the time you file, you both need only have resided in South Carolina for three months. If your spouse is a nonresident, you must live in the state for at least one year before filing for divorce. If you are a nonresident, your spouse must have resided in the state for at least one year before you file.

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How is property divided at divorce?

Real and personal property acquired during your marriage can be divided according to an agreement negotiated with your spouse. If you can’t agree on how your marital property should be divided, a family court judge will make that determination after considering the following factors:

  • How long you were married and your ages
  • The role of any misconduct in the marriage or in your finances
  • The value of the property and each of your contributions in acquiring it
  • Each spouse’s income and potential future income
  • Each spouse’s health
  • The need for additional education or training to earn more income
  • Each spouse’s nonmarital property, such as inheritances and gifts
  • Whether maintenance or alimony is awarded
  • The desirability to maintain the family home for the children
  • Tax consequences
  • Prior child support obligations
  • Liens and other debts
  • Child custody arrangements

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How do I file for divorce?

To file for divorce in South Carolina, you must complete several forms, including a complaint for divorce and a financial declaration form. Certain forms will need to be signed in the presence of a notary.  A divorce lawyer can help ensure that the forms are completed and filed properly.

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Will my divorce be mediated?

Divorce mediation is mandatory in South Carolina when there are contested issues, but spouses are not required to reach a final settlement during mediation if in good faith they cannot do so. Mediation will be required if spouses can’t reach an agreement on child custody or visitation. If mediation fails to result in an agreement, litigation in court is the next step.

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What is the difference between fault divorce and no-fault divorce?

South Carolina has both fault and no-fault divorces. The only no-fault divorce option requires that parties live apart from each other for at least a year. Fault divorces can be sought for any of these grounds: adultery, desertion for a period of one year, physical cruelty, or habitual drunkenness or narcotic abuse. If you assert that your spouse is at fault for the divorce, you must prove it to the court with evidence.

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What is the cost of divorce?

According to a survey, the average divorce in South Carolina costs $12,600, including $10,000 in attorneys’ fees. Other expenses include fees for court filings, the cost of copying and sharing documents, and compensation for expert witnesses and consultants (such as child custody evaluators, appraisers, or financial analysts). The costs for couples with minor children or those with high-value estates likely will be higher than the state average. If you allege fault in your divorce, the cost is likely to be higher than the average as well.

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How long will divorce take?

There is no set time for how long it takes for a divorce to become final in South Carolina. The time is as varied as the facts of your case — some might take a few months and others over a year. Factors that influence the time include:

  • Grounds for the divorce
  • Whether a prenuptial agreement exists
  • The openings in the family court’s schedule
  • Whether the divorce is uncontested or contested
  • The conduct of the attorneys and spouses

A simple divorce in which the parties agree on all terms and have no children is likely to be the quickest and most cost-effective.

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What is the divorce process?

The divorce process in South Carolina is fairly straightforward:

  • You file a summons and complaint with the clerk of the family court in your county.
  • Your spouse must be served with the papers.
  • Your spouse has 30 days to respond.
  • If your spouse files a counterclaim, you have 30 days to respond.
  • If you and your spouse believe you can reach an agreement without going to court, you may try to negotiate or mediate an agreement that establishes the terms of your divorce.
  • You can ask for a trial, but you must first attempt to resolve any disputed issues using mediation.
  • Following trial, a family court judge will rule on property division, child custody, alimony and other issues.Back to top

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