Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina
There are two main types of divorce available in South Carolina: contested and uncontested. Let's take a look at the differences between these options.
- If partners fail to find a mutual agreement on divorce-related issues, such as division of marital property, child support, and child custody, they must end their marriage as a contested divorce. To address all issues and meet the expectations of both parties, the judge will have to hold a trial, examine the evidence, and call witnesses. In the end, this kind of divorce typically takes a lot of time and money.
- Couples managing to agree on all aspects of divorce have the opportunity to go through a simplified route, known as an uncontested divorce. This type of marriage dissolution is way faster and more affordable than a contested divorce.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
The advancement of Internet technologies has resulted in the development of online divorce companies that help people prepare uncontested divorce forms from the comfort of their homes. For example, DivorceOnline is a top-class online divorce service that guides spouses through each step of selecting and filling out divorce documents for as little as $139.
All you need to do is complete a simple questionnaire to provide us with information about your marriage, including children, property, and the occupations and income of each party. In just two business days, you will be able to download ready-to-sign divorce papers along with written instructions on how to file.
Currently, South Carolina courts may require divorcing spouses to submit documents, such as:
- Family Court Cover Sheet (SCCA 467/SCBar-467)
- Certificate of Exemption (SC Bar SD-1)
- Summons (SCBar SD-2)
- Complaint for Divorce (SCBar SD-3)
- Financial Declaration (SCBar 430(a))
- Motion and Affidavit to proceed In Forma Pauperis (SCBar SD-4)
- Affidavit of Service (SCBar SD-5)
- Application and Affidavit of Default (SCBar SD-6)
- Request for a Hearing (SCBar SD-&0)
- Final Decree of Divorce (SCBar SD-8)
- Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Form 0692
Steps for Filing a Divorce in South Carolina
Each marriage dissolution case consists of several significant steps that should be followed to get a divorce granted in South Carolina.
For the family court to accept the case, the requirements listed below should be fulfilled:
- At least one of the partners must have lived in South Carolina for one year before the divorce case is started.
- If both parties currently legally reside in South Carolina, the plaintiff (the person initiating the divorce process) must have lived in this State for three months before filing documents for divorce.
Unlike many other states, South Carolina accepts both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. In a no-fault divorce, it is enough to state "irreconcilable differences" as the main cause of marriage termination. At the same time, South Carolina residents can only apply for a no-fault divorce if they have lived separately and apart for at least one year.
In terms of a fault divorce, there are four main grounds for initiating this process:
- desertion for one year or more
- physical cruelty
- habitual drunkenness or drug addiction.
If the plaintiff files for a divorce based on fault grounds, they will have to provide the court with indisputable evidence of the spouse's misconduct.
To initiate the divorce process, the plaintiff should file South Carolina divorce papers with the Clerk of Family Court in the county where they or the defendant (the respondent spouse) resides.
Divorce papers in South Carolina
Divorce forms required for each case may differ depending on the county. However, the basic list of appropriate divorce documents includes:
- Divorce Complaint
- Family Court Cover Sheet
- Summons for Divorce
- Financial Declaration
Couples filing for divorce in South Carolina should keep in mind that the full set of necessary divorce forms depends on a variety of factors, such as the involvement of minor children, the county where divorce petition is filed, and so on. So, it would be useful to contact the county clerk’s office before submitting paperwork.
The plaintiff (the filing spouse) will have to pay a mandatory filing fee when filing divorce papers. Currently, South Carolina court charges around $150 for processing documents and divorce requests. Couples needing a temporary hearing to address divorce-rlated issues will have to pay an additional $25. Therefore, the final cost of initiating the divorce process is unique in each case.
Once the divorce paperwork is filed, the couple will have to wait at least 90 days before the judge can sign the Final Divorce Decree.
After filing the divorce petition at the appropriate court, the plaintiff should notify the defendant that legal action is taken against them. Presently, it can be done in one of the following ways:
- By Personal Service
- By U.S. Mail
- Service by the Sheriff's Office
At the final hearing, the judge will review the submitted documents to ensure they are fair. If divorce terms are reasonable and meet each party's best interests, the judge will sign the Final Order of Divorce and file it with the clerk of court.
Getting a Divorce With Children
Divorcing couples with minor children should also address child-related issues regarding child support payments and child custody arrangements. In South Carolina, either joint or sole custody may be granted. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the legal authority to make significant decisions for the child. Under a joint legal custody arrangement, one parent can still be the primary caregiver, with the other parent having visitation hours. Joint physical custody means that both parents have custody of the children for an equal or near-equal amount of time. If parents reach their own agreement for custody and alimony and this agreement meets children's best interests, the divorce process will not be complicated.
However, if parents have any disagreements regarding their children, the judge will award custody and decide on the amount of financial support considering factors, such:
- the child's relationship with each parent
- each parent's physical and mental health
- each parent's financial status
- the history of different types of violence in the family
- the child's relationship with other family members and siblings
- the child's special needs
As for child support, South Carolina follows the Income Shares Model, which considers child support as the share of each parent's income that would have been spent on the children if the spouses were remaining married. Under this Model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children, adjusted to South Carolina's cost of living levels. Child support generally continues until the child turns 18 or until graduation from high school.
In addition to the basic divorce packet of documents, spouses with children also have to submit:
- Parenting Plan (this document outlines the type of custody parents would like to maintain over their children)
- Child Support Worksheet (this document outlines support obligations maintained by each parent)
- Parenting Class Completion Certificate (this document proves the completion of classes on how to help kids deal with a divorce)
Filing for Divorce in South Carolina Without a Lawyer
Even though divorce attorneys provide legal advice and protect their clients' interests in South Carolina courts, many residents of this state consider the option of do-it-yourself divorce to end their marriages. Even if the spouses have some disputes in their divorce they cannot resolve independently, they are not obliged to retain a high-priced attorney. Many couples choose divorce mediation instead, as a peaceful and affordable way to develop their Parenting Plan or Marital Settlement Agreement out of court, with the help of a neutral mediator.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in South Carolina
A DIY divorce is a process of ending a marriage without engaging a family law attorney to represent a specific divorce case. This procedure is totally valid and legal as long as South Carolina divorce forms and legal fees are submitted correctly.
In a DIY divorce, spouses are required to prepare divorce paperwork on their own, which can be quite challenging. Therefore, many people using this type of divorce also use online divorce software solutions, such as DivorceOnline.com.
By preparing divorce papers online, the couple can save a vast amount of time and money. Besides, it is a very convenient way of terminating a marriage, as spouses should not schedule and attend multiple meetings with attorneys. This task can be done from the comfort of home.
Frequently Asked Questions:
A typical uncontested divorce process takes around 3-4 months, whereas contested divorce cases can last over a year due to a variety of issues that should be resolved in open court..
In addition to the filing fee, which is $150 in South Carolina, divorcing spouses usually spend money on online divorce services or attorneys' services. Online divorce providers, namely DivorceOnline.com, charge $139 for helping clients prepare divorce paperwork. When it comes to attorneys, they charge $200-300 per hour. Thus, the total cost of completed documents can reach several thousand dollars.
If paying filing fees is a considerable financial hardship for the couple, they can ask the judge to waive this payment by signing the Motion and Affidavit to Proceed In Forma Pauperis form. In turn, the judge will review this document and either grant the motion or not.
The list of appropriate South Carolina divorce papers may differ from case to case. It depends on the kind of selected divorce, the county where divorce papers are submitted, and the involvement of children. However, all divorcing partners should be prepared to submit:
- Family Court Cover Sheet
- Certificate of Exemption
- Complaint for Divorce
- Financial Declaration
- Parenting Plan
- Child Support Worksheet
- Parenting Class Completion Certificate
- Motion and Affidavit to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
- Affidavit of Service
- Application and Affidavit of Default
- Request for a Hearing
- Final Decree of Divorce