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Divorcing in South Carolina: the basic process

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2022 | Divorce

Are you considering going through with a divorce in South Carolina? If so, you may be wondering about the process. So today, let’s take a quick look at the basics.

Fault vs. no-fault divorce in South Carolina

There are two main divorce categories in South Carolina: no-fault and fault. The former is when neither party blames the other for irrevocably damaging the union. Couples must remain contentiously separated for at least a year to obtain a no-fault divorce in South Carolina. So-called “fault” divorces occur when one party accuses the other of either adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty or desertion.

Simple vs. contested divorce in South Carolina

Just as there are two categories of divorce in South Carolina, there are two main marital dissolution processes: simple and contested. As the names suggest, simple divorces are only for no-fault situations, and it’s a less bureaucratic process. Conversely, contested divorces usually involve couples that:

  • Are navigating a messy “fault” divorce
  • Cannot agree on child custody arrangements
  • Cannot agree on financial support and asset allocations

Some couples going through simple divorces choose the DIY route and handle it all themselves. Others hire attorneys, but only for paperwork purposes. Contested divorces, however, usually result in full litigation. Another option is collaborative divorce, a process halfway between DIY and full litigation. Regardless of the chosen method, nearly all divorcing couples in the state must go through court-appointed mediation.

Basic framework of the divorce process

Generally speaking, though, nearly every divorce is framed around four milestones:

  • The initial filing
  • Notification of the marriage dissolution request
  • Negotiations, litigation, and mediation
  • Final hearing to finalize attendant settlements and agreements

The bulk of activity happens between the notification and finalization phases. Typically, the longer the marriage, the more complex the negotiations.