Deciding to end a marriage is emotionally confusing and exhausting, and in the heat of the moment, it can be tough trying to think clearly. Below, we discuss the grounds for filing fordivorce in South Carolina and where to file as well as the definition of an uncontested divorce.
What Are the Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Greenville, S.C.?
The state of South Carolina recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. When it comes to a no-fault divorce, the parties must have lived separately and without cohabitation for more than one year. For a fault-based divorce, the state recognizes desertion, habitual drunkenness and drug use, adultery, and physical cruelty. However, desertion is rarely used since the parties have to have lived separately, just like a no-fault divorce. It is worth noting that parties might be able to obtain a divorce within 90 days after the date of filing for a divorce in Greenville, S.C., provided all the issues in the case have been resolved and finalized.
Where to File for a Divorce
When preparing to file for a divorce, many people prefer to file in the court or county that is most convenient for them, but that is not always allowed or applicable. When it comes to considering the right county for filing a divorce, you need to also consider the correct “venue.”
In South Carolina, the law states that divorce and separate maintenance and support actions be filed in the county where:
- The defendant lives at the time of filing for a divorce;
- The plaintiff lives if the defendant does not live in the state or cannot be found;
- Both the defendant and plaintiff last lived as husband and wife unless the plaintiff is not a resident of South Carolina, in which chase the divorce has to be filed in the county where the defendant lives.
As you can see, filing for divorce is not always done in the most convenient location. Both parties must follow the above rules.
A few examples include:
- The defendant and plaintiff resided together in Greenville, S.C. before separating. The plaintiff now lives in North Carolina, and the defendants have moved to Spartanburg County. In this instance, the plaintiff is obligated to file for divorce in Spartanburg County since that is where he or she now resides.
- Both parties lived together in Greenville before separating. The defendant moved to Horry County, and the plaintiff remained in Greenville. The plaintiff can, therefore, file for divorce in either location.
- Both parties lived together locally before separating, and now the plaintiff lives in Greenville, and the defendant lives in New Mexico. In this case, the plaintiff is compelled to file in Greenville since the defendants do not live in the state.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
While going through a divorce is emotionally complex, so is the legal process a complex one. But, in this state, there is a simpler approach to filing for divorce, often referred to as a simplified or uncontested divorce. It is also referred to as a no-fault divorce.
As discussed, there are several grounds for divorce in the state of South Carolina. Physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, desertion, and adultery are all fault-based grounds, and if you want to file based one or more of these grounds, you will need the assistance of an expert attorney to help you through the complicated and lengthy process.
The fifth ground for filing for divorce allows couples to file for a no-fault divorce, which means that either partner blames the other for the circumstances. In this kind of divorce, you are not required to prove any kind of marital misconduct in order for a judge to grant a divorce. Instead, the parties only need show that they have been separate for one year or more. But, even with this type of divorce, judges might still consider fault grounds when determining other issues in the case, such as custody and alimony.
If you and your partner are wanting to file a divorce based on separation, or no-fault, you may be able to use the simple divorce process, provided you meet several other requirements. With this simplified process, if either party has been at fault in any way, those issues may not be brought up in proceedings.
What Are the Requirements for a Simple Process in South Carolina?
In order to be deemed eligible to file for a simple divorce, you have to meet the below requirements:
- Either of you filing for divorce based on one year of continuous separation, as per the no-fault ground, and you have not lived together at any point during those 12 months;
- Either of you have lived in the state for at least a year before filing for divorce, or you both live in South Carolina and have done so for at least three months prior to filing;
- You do not have any marital debt or marital property, or you have come to an agreement on how to divide the debt or property;
- You do not have any children with your partner, or you do have minors together and have already reached a custody agreement, child support, and visitation, and the child support agreement does meet the minimum requirements as set out by the state’s Child Support Guidelines.
If you and your spouse meet all of the above requirements, then you may be allowed to fill out the forms for a simple divorce. If you fail to meet all of the requirements, or you have any questions about the case, you will need to talk to a knowledgeable lawyer as the court is not permitted to answer questions about your legal rights or your case.
The next step in filing for divorce will be filing the below papers with the Clerk of the Court in the Family Court Division:
- Certificate of exemption
- Family court cover sheet
- Financial declaration form
- Summons for divorce
- Complaint for divorce
Some of the forms need to be signed in front of a notary public, and copies will need to be made for both your records and the court’s records. The clerk charges a fee to file the papers, but if you are unable to pay, you can file a Motion and Affidavit to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. If approved, you won’t be required to pay filing fees.
Do You Really Need to Hire a Lawyer?
Hiring an experienced attorney is better than attempting to navigate through the divorce process alone. While the state of South Carolina does not require you to have an attorney, the knowledge and advice of an experienced attorney at Elliot Frazier Law Firm is crucial in protecting your future interests.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.