A Guide to Filing for Divorce in South Carolina
Getting a divorce in South Carolina can create several emotional and financial challenges that you need to be prepared to deal with the best way that you can.
You must arm yourself with the information you’ll need along every step of the way.
Understanding the process won’t remove all the fears, doubts and anxiety you may experience, but knowing what to expect and what steps you will need to take will at least make things more manageable in most cases.
Here are the most important things to get started:
- Gathering Important Financial Information
- Choosing Your Preferred Divorce Process
- Filling Out the Necessary Forms
- Filing Your Documents
- Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
- FAQs About Filing for Divorce in South Carolina
Begin the divorce process by gathering information
No matter your circumstances, you will benefit from being organized at the outset when it comes to tracking down the financial documentation that you’ll need.
Many parts of divorce can be overwhelming, so any steps you can take to save time and reduce stress and anxiety should be a priority for you early in the process.
To help you gain a better understanding of the types of documents and information you’ll need to pull together, we’ve created a great Divorce Information Checklist.
Decide what kind of divorce you will go through
Deciding on what divorce process to use (litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, etc.) provides you with the framework to begin moving forward. That’s an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly.
It will drive how amicable or contentious your divorce will be and set the tone for your future co-parenting relationship if you have kids. With so much at stake, it’s imperative that you understand all of your options and how they will play upon your individual situation.
Determine what divorce forms you will need to complete
Once you have decided what kind of divorce procedure you will follow, the next step is to complete a series of forms that will be submitted to the court to start your official divorce process.
If you work with a lawyer, they will handle the paperwork for you to make sure everything is filled out and submitted properly.
If you decide to complete the forms on your own, you will be able to access the forms you need either online at the South Carolina Judicial Branch website or in person at your local county courthouse. The exact paperwork you need to complete will vary by the circumstances of your individual marriage.
Filing Your Divorce Documents in South Carolina
If you are working with an attorney in South Carolina, they will make sure all the forms are correct, and walk you through the necessary steps involved with filing your papers with the court.
If you are not working with an attorney, you will need to file paperwork in the Clerk of the Court’s office in your county along with fees that will be due.
Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers
After you file your papers with the court, you must provide your spouse with a copy of those papers.
A professional process server, a sheriff’s deputy or someone over age 18 can serve the papers on your spouse. They will then need to complete a form and it must be returned to the court documenting the date the proof of service took place. You can also complete service by mail.
If you have made several attempts to locate a spouse to serve papers, but they can’t be found, it is possible to complete proof of service by publication. This requires running a notice in a local newspaper for 30 days.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in South Carolina
What is the cost to file for a divorce in South Carolina?
The filing fee for a divorce, annulment, and separate support and spousal maintenance actions in South Carolina is $150.
There may also be other fees you will have to pay as well such as paying to have your court papers served on your spouse.
Can filing fees be waived in South Carolina?
In some cases, yes.
If you cannot afford to pay the initial $150 filing fee, you may file a motion called the “Motion and Affidavit to Proceed In Forma Pauperis” asking the judge to waive the filing fees.
You must file this motion along with the complaint you are trying to file.
If the judge grants your motion, then you do not have to pay filing fees, but you are still responsible for other court costs. If the judge does not grant your motion, you may have to pay the filing fee at your hearing or trial.
Can I file for a divorce online in South Carolina?
You sure can. In fact, filing for divorce online in South Carolina can be a great way to save time and money.
Online divorce isn’t right for everyone. It only works if you have an uncontested divorce (you and your spouse are able to reach agreements without going to court).
If you have a dispute over child custody or particularly complicated finances, you should consult with a lawyer. There’s simply too much on the line to cut corners.
But if you have an amicable divorce, you might be able to do it yourself. Figuring out how to complete the divorce forms, draft a Marital Settlement Agreement, and navigating the legal system can be complicated.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Enter: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce is an affordable online divorce service that makes it easy to complete your divorce papers and gives you step-by-step instructions for filing your forms with the court. You’ll answer a series of questions (with simple explanations of the legal jargon) and 3 Step Divorce will populate all the required forms. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour from start to finish.
Here’s why we recommend 3 Step Divorce:
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Read our 3 Step Divorce review, or check out 3 Step Divorce to get started >>
What are the South Carolina residency requirements for filing for a divorce?
In most cases, if both parties have lived in South Carolina for over three months, then South Carolina has jurisdiction of the divorce. If one of the parties is out of state, and the other party lives in South Carolina, the South Carolina resident must have lived in South Carolina for at least one year.
How long does it take to get a divorce in South Carolina?
After paperwork is filed, it takes at least 90 days for a divorce to be final per state law. After the 90-day period, the judge can sign a final Decree of Divorce.
Contested divorces can take a much longer amount of time. If your divorce goes to trial, then it could take several months before your case could be heard in front of a judge.
How quickly this happens depends on how congested the court’s calendar is, your schedule and your attorney’s schedules, and the complexity of the issues in your divorce.
Can I file for divorce in South Carolina without using a lawyer?
You can file for divorce in South Carolina without using a lawyer. The vast majority of cases without a lawyer involve uncontested divorces where spouses agree on all terms of the divorce and produce a final settlement agreement as a means of cutting down on legal expenses.
Are there special considerations in filing for divorce while I am pregnant in South Carolina?
You can file for a divorce in South Carolina even if you are pregnant. But there is a one-year waiting period for a divorce after you separate unless you have grounds for an at-fault divorce.
What is the divorce process if I am a member of the military in South Carolina?
Special laws that supersede state laws in many instances are in place for members of the military who will be going through a divorce in South Carolina.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eases legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty. Divorce proceedings can be postponed until the servicemember finishes active duty obligations as part of the Act.
Normally, getting a divorce requires a one year minimum residency in South Carolina. However, the state will allow a service member to file for divorce in the state if they have been stationed on a South Carolina military base for a year, including off-shore naval ships, even if they do not intend to remain in the state.
For military divorces, the grounds are the same as non-military divorces in South Carolina. Irreconcilable differences or one of four fault-based reasons must be stated when getting a divorce.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:
- How to File for Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce
- What Are The Types of Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce