In general, family law matters are never easy to confront, whether you’re facing divorce, a child custody issue, or a domestic violence matter. Fortunately, an experienced and compassionate attorney may be able to help you see your best options and fight to achieve the most strategic result based on your situation. Years of experience have prepared the family law attorneys at King Law with an unparalleled understanding of the intricacies of family law. Our experienced divorce lawyers serve clients throughout South Carolina, including Gaffney, Greer, Spartanburg, and Greenville.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina?
In the state of South Carolina, S.C. Code § 20-3-10 outlines the rules and regulations surrounding divorce. South Carolina recognizes no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. To complete a no-fault divorce, each person must have lived separately without cohabitation for over one year. For a fault-based divorce, there are four grounds for divorce in South Carolina:
- Habitual drunkenness
- Physical cruelty
- Abandonment or desertion
Mental abuse or cruelty isn’t a basis for divorce in South Carolina. Divorce proceedings generally take place in specific courts called family courts. These judges have jurisdiction over divorce, separations, child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support/alimony, and the division of marital property.
How Long Does Divorce Take in South Carolina?
Dissolving a marriage in South Carolina can be an intricate and emotionally challenging process. Although most people prefer to finish their divorce quickly and move on with their lives, South Carolina divorce laws can complicate the procedure. In general, the length of a divorce depends on a number of factors, including whether or not your divorce is based on fault and whether it was contested or contested.
If Your Divorce Is Based on Fault
If your South Carolina divorce is fault-based, it’s crucial that you meet with an attorney and file for divorce as soon as possible. Fault-based divorce cases have a 90-day minimum waiting period before a final hearing can be requested. If your divorce isn’t based on fault, South Carolina requires a one-year separation period before either party can file.
If Your Divorce Is Contested or Uncontested
Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested is one of the most critical factors determining how long the divorce process will take. For an uncontested divorce, meaning that you and your partner agree on all relevant issues, you can file for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support. Though this doesn’t end your marriage, it can make the one-year separation period easier by providing clear guidelines for how property and responsibilities will be divided. If your divorce is contested, the length of time will increase as mediation or litigation may be required to resolve the necessary issues.
Family Law Issues We Handle at King Law in South Carolina
At King Law, our divorce lawyers will provide the court with the proper information to help ensure a fair outcome to your case, and our experienced counsel helps give you peace of mind throughout a complex legal process. However, divorce isn’t the only family law issue we handle. Here are a few others:
South Carolina law allows a marriage to be concluded by annulment rather than divorce under certain circumstances. Unlike a divorce, which terminates your marriage, an annulment declares your marriage null and void from its inception. This is akin to saying your marriage never happened in the first place.
Pre- or Post- Nuptial Agreements
Either before or after a couple gets married, they may want to establish an agreement related to the assets or debts. This is often of concern with individuals later in life or in their second or future marriages. After marriage, agreements made between married people, or “post nups”, are often the product of a party attempting to protect property or money earned that may not be incident to the marriage.
A custody proceeding is any court case where legal custody, physical custody, or visitation is decided. This may occur during a divorce, but it could also be the result of a separation, neglect, abuse, paternity, domestic violence, or guardianship proceeding. When faced with the child custody issues of a divorce or a post-divorce relocation, we may be able to provide the necessary guidance for these stressful circumstances.
Oftentimes, the optimal solution is one found outside of court. Our seasoned attorneys assist clients in negotiating a mediated resolution to their family law case, sidestep trips to court, and foster better future communication with the other party.
Many family law issues arise as families grow and change over the years. We have experience helping clients navigate the waters of adjustments in obligations such as child support, alimony, residential relocation, and other related issues.
Trusted Family Law and Divorce Lawyers in South Carolina
The best way to begin moving forward following any family law dispute is to meet with an experienced South Carolina family and divorce attorney as soon as possible. Fortunately, help is right around the corner at King Law. Our team of knowledgeable lawyers understands the ins and outs of South Carolina family law and is committed to standing by your side throughout the entirety of the legal process.
At King Law, we’re dedicated to building a relationship with our clients to learn about what matters most as they move forward to a better place in their lives. When you partner with our South Carolina family and divorce attorneys, we’ll work tirelessly to do everything we can to attain the most desirable results possible for you and your family. To schedule a consultation with one of our family law and divorce lawyers, contact us here or call (888) 748-5464.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in South Carolina?
Divorce is a decree from the court that spouses are no longer married. There are five grounds for divorce in South Carolina: adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, abandonment and no fault, which is based on the parties living separate and apart for at least one year. Mental abuse/cruelty is not a basis for divorce in South Carolina.
A divorce action may be initiated as a separate case, only requesting a divorce from the other spouse, once the grounds for the divorce are proven, or as part of an action including child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support and alimony, and division of marital property. The court can issue a temporary order related to the issues until the final hearing.
South Carolina does not recognize “legal separation.” Instead, the South Carolina Family Courts issue Orders of Separate Maintenance and Support, which provide specific details regarding parties’ child custody, visitation, and support arrangements, as well as the division of martial marital assets and debts. The court can issue a temporary order until the case is resolved at a final hearing or trial. An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support generally resolves all issues incident to divorce but does not dissolve the marriage. Sometimes parties decide to obtain an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support in order to live as if they are unmarried but remain married for various reasons- usually so one spouse can remain on the other’s health insurance.
In South Carolina, the only way to obtain a no-fault divorce is to live separately for one year. Living separately occurs when spouses live in two different locations. Living in different bedrooms in the same house does not qualify as living separately. Spouses do not need an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support to live separately, but it can help the spouses protect their financial interests and resolve visitation and custody issues. Once there is a final Order of Separate Support and Maintenance, it is generally not modifiable except as to alimony, child custody and support and remains in effect if you later obtain a divorce.
Either spouse may file an action for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support, so long as the parties are living separate and apart (in a no-fault situation), or fault grounds can be proven.
Issues such as child custody, visitation, and support, which spouse will remain in the marital home, who will be responsible for paying the mortgage and other costs associated with the home during the separation period, closing joint accounts, allocating marital debt, transferring titles to personal property, such as automobiles and boats, into one spouse’s name or the other’s, (depending on who retains possession of the property), spousal support, and health insurance are addressed in a temporary order until the court issues a final order.
If the spouses are able to reach an agreement for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support, the Judge will review the Agreement to make sure it is fair to both parties, in the best interest of their minor children, and that it follows South Carolina law.
The procedure for filing for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support in Family Court is as follows: one of the spouses, who will be the Plaintiff, files a Summons and Complaint for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support, and a Notice and Motion for Temporary Relief, or has his or her attorney do so. Once filed, the Summons, Complaint, and Notice and Motion for Temporary Relief are personally served upon the other spouse or his or her attorney. The spouse served is the Defendant, meaning he or she is not the filing party. The Defendant, or his or her attorney, then has thirty (30) days to file an Answer, responding to the Complaint, and Counterclaim, telling the Court what he or she would like the Judge to do regarding the issues in the case. The case is then heard by a Judge, who will decide the issues or review and approve an agreement between the parties. This Order will control the issues until the parties reach a Final Agreement as to all issues, or until the trial.
How Expensive is it to Get Divorce in South Carolina?
The cost of getting a divorce in South Carolina is highly individualized. Multiple variables determine cost, these variables can include: 1) cooperation of parties; 2) complexity of case; 3) amount of marital assets/debts; 4) whether or not children are involved; 5) whether the divorce is fault or no-fault. This is not a complete list and many variables can be considered when estimating cost.
Speaking with an attorney about your specific individual needs is imperative when deciding how to proceed with divorce.
How is Spousal Support Decided?
Courts must consider a range of factors when determining if and what kind of spousal support to order. These factors are set forth in SC Code § 20-3-130 (C)(1)-(10). These factors include but are not limited to: 1) Length of marriage and age of parties, 2) physical and mental condition of each person, 3) educational background, 4) employment history/potential, 5) standard of living during the marriage, 6) current and expected earnings, 7) current and expected expenses, 8) properties owned, 9) custody of children, 10) marital misconduct, 11) tax consequences, 12) existence of spousal support from a previous marriage, 13) other factors the court finds relevant.
It is key to note a court can consider anything it deems relevant when determining whether to award spousal support. Also, a finding of adultery prohibits a spouse from receiving alimony.