Either spouse must be a resident of South Carolina for at least one year in order to file for a no-fault divorce. However, if both spouses are residents, the requirement is only three months.
Fill Out your Forms
To begin a divorce in South Carolina, one spouse must file a Complaint for Divorce. Where the complaint is filed depends upon the location of both spouses. If the receiving spouse (the defendant) does not live in South Carolina, then the complaining spouse (the plaintiff) can file in their own county. If the defendant lives in South Carolina the plaintiff must file for divorce in the county in which the spouses last lived together.
Once the complaint is filed, it must be served to the defendant, along with a Summons and a Financial Declaration form. The Summons explains that a divorce action has been brought up against the receiving spouse and he or she should accept and answer the complaint. The Financial Declaration form acts as a form of "discovery": its purpose is to show everything that the plaintiff has, and it is signed by a notary for authenticity. Service can be performed by certified mail, a professional server, the sheriff or by simply receiving the forms voluntarily from the spouse and signing a form explaining this voluntary acceptance of service from the spouse.
After being served the defendant must then file an answer to their spouse's complaint. The answer stands as a way for the court to be certain the defendant received the documents, and as a way for the defendant to state any complaints that he or she has. The next step is for the defendant to declare his or her financial situation and file that information with the court. Once the defendant has done that he or she must take the original Financial Declaration and Answer, and two copies, to the Clerk of Court's office where the clerk will take the original, and stamp and return the two copies. At this point the defendant will mail a stamped copy of both forms to the plaintiff (or the plaintiff's attorney).
If the parties have reached an agreement and they do not desire to proceed with a lengthy trial they can use Rocket Lawyer's easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement. The Divorce Settlement Agreement facilitates the division of property, assets, debts and liabilities as well as settles matters of child support, custody and visitation.
After the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney receives the necessary forms, he or she should receive a notice of hearing from the county clerk's office. It is the plaintiff's job to mail a copy of the hearing notice to the defendant. An Affidavit of Service by Mailing must also be signed by both the plaintiff and a notary republic.
Before the hearing the plaintiff must fill out a set of forms stating the conditions of the divorce, and the parties, property and children involved. If the divorce is considered no fault, then most of the issues involving the children must be squared away, including things like visitation schedule and living arrangements. During the hearing the judge will hear the case and make a decision that is equitable for both parties. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what seems fair for each party given the circumstances. Once the judge has signed the Final Order of Divorce the couple is divorced. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to file the Final Order of Divorce with county clerk's office, and to send a copy to the defendant.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina offers a helpful packet of information to help you complete your divorce.
If you feel like you need more help, you can use Rocket Lawyer to Find a Lawyer who fits your situation and needs.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.