Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in South Carolina

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Divorce can feel overwhelming.  Everyone knows someone who has a divorce horror story.  Consequently, we at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to attempt to address your concerns and ease some of your fears.

What are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in South Carolina?

In order to get a divorce in South Carolina, one or both of the parties must live in the state of South Carolina.  The length of time varies, depending on whether both parties live in the state, or only one person lives in the state.  If one party lives in the state, they must be a South Carolina resident for a period of at least one year.  Where both parties live in the state, the plaintiff must have lived in the state for at least three months.  The “plaintiff” is the person who files the papers in court that initiate the divorce.  The other spouse is referred to as the “defendant.”

What is Venue and is it Important?

There are rules about where a South Carolina divorce can be filed.  This is referred to as “venue.”  Which county the divorce is filed in depends on whether one party lives out of state, and which party lives out of state.  Where both parties live within the state of South Carolina, the action for divorce from the bonds of marriage are filed in the county that the defendant resides in at the time the divorce is filed.  This is true even if the defendant is planning to move to another county shortly.  If the defendant doesn’t live in South Carolina, or if the defendant cannot be found after due diligence has been performed to locate the defendant, the divorce filing may be done in the county that the plaintiff lives in.  If it is the plaintiff who is an out of state resident, the case may be filed in the county the defendant lives in.

What if I Do Not Know Where My Spouse Is?

“Due diligence” must be exercised to locate your spouse.  This means you need to make a good faith effort to locate your spouse.  This can include such actions as inquiring at the post office about a forwarding address.  It also could include contacting mutual friends, or your spouse’s family members, to see if any of them know where you spouse is.  You may do an internet search, to determine if you can locate them that way.  This could include, but is not limited to searching sites like LinkedIn or Facebook to see if you can find your spouse.

If all your attempts to locate your spouse are unsuccessful, you will be required to file an affidavit with the court.  In this affidavit, you outline in detail the steps you have taken in an attempt to locate your spouse.  Once you have taken the necessary steps to locate your spouse, if you are still unsuccessful, you can proceed with a divorce by publication.  A “divorce by publication” occurs when the court is satisfied that you have completed a good faith effort to locate your spouse, using due diligence, but were unsuccessful.  The court will then allow for a service of the summons “by publication.”  This means that the summons, a legal document that you would otherwise serve on your spouse personally, is published in a newspaper once a week for three weeks in a row.

The Judge in My Case Ordered Me to Attempt to Reconcile.  Do I Have to Do This?

Under South Carolina law, there are many situations where your divorce proceedings will be subject to an attempt to get the parties to reconcile.  This is a public policy in South Carolina, because South Carolina believes marriage is an institution worthy of protection.  Some couples actually do benefit from a third party’s attempts to reconcile the couple and save the marriage.  If you have been ordered to participate in an attempt to reconcile, then yes, you do have to do it.  Note, however, you are only required to participate in the attempt to reconcile; you are not required to reconcile.  If the referee or judge decides, after an earnest effort, that reconciliation is not possible, the divorce will proceed.  Judges and referees are trained to listen to the parties before them.  If you make your feelings known, the judge is required to take that into consideration when making a decision. A judge will not refuse your request to divorce in the face of an unequivocable statement that you cannot reconcile.

My Spouse is in the Military and is Overseas.  How Are We Supposed to Attempt Reconciliation?

Where one party is overseas due to military service, an affidavit can be filed with the court.  The affidavit will include language such as: “As far as I am concerned, a reconciliation is impossible,” according to  South Carolina Statute § 20-3-100.

Am I Entitled to Alimony?

The short answer to the question, “Am I entitled to alimony?” is, “It depends.” There are any number of considerations and standards the court will apply in each individual case.  Whether or not you are entitled to alimony is based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.  This is a nice illustration of why a qualified divorce attorney is essential to your case.

I Just Moved In With My New Boyfriend.  My Ex Says That He Doesn’t Have to Pay Alimony Any More.  I Think That’s Just If I Get Remarried.  Who is Right?

You are definitely right.  If you get married again, your alimony payments will cease.  However, your ex may also be right.  It depends on what “I just moved in” means.  This is because South Carolina law provides for the termination of alimony wherein the recipient of alimony is engaged in continued cohabitation.  “Continued cohabitation” is defined as living with another person, in a romantic relationship, for 90 consecutive days or longer.  If you have been living with your boyfriend for less than 90 days, and want to keep your alimony, you will need to move out.

What To Do If You Are Considering Divorce

If you are considering a divorce, you should call the attorneys at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC.  Our determined divorce law attorneys in Greenville, SC can answer all of your questions, and assist you in your divorce. Contact us today for a consultation.

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