Divorce Attorneys serving Spartanburg & Greenville, SC
In South Carolina, you can obtain a divorce based on one spouse’s fault or one year of continuous separation. Before the divorce is final, some issues which you may face are:
- Property division
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support (and expenses not covered by insurance)
You and your spouse can reach an agreement on these issues – possibly through mandatory mediation – or a judge of the Family Court will decide them for you.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it could prove to be an emotionally stressful and legally complex process. This is why you should seek help from an attorney who will bring not only skill and experience to your case, but patience and understanding as well.
The law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., can provide this blend of professional and compassionate service to you if you are seeking a divorce in Spartanburg, Greenville or elsewhere in South Carolina. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Establishing Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce in South Carolina
The first step in your divorce case will be to determine whether you or your spouse meet South Carolina residency requirements. This can be established by showing one of the following:
- You have resided in South Carolina for at least one year before starting the action.
- Your spouse has resided in the state for one year prior to the start of the action.
- You and your spouse both live within the state, and you have lived here for at least three months before starting the action.
Establishing Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce in South Carolina
The next step in your divorce case will be to select the grounds for your divorce. Five grounds for divorce can be cited in South Carolina. Four involve the fault of one spouse:
- Adultery – Proof of adultery (or illicit intercourse of two persons, one of whom, at least, is married) must be sufficiently definite to identify the time and place of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed. Adultery is an activity that usually takes place in private, so circumstantial evidence may be used to prove adultery. The circumstantial evidence must show that your spouse had both the “inclination and opportunity” to commit adultery.
- One Year’s Desertion – To warrant divorce on the grounds of desertion, there must be a termination from cohabitation for one year, intent on the part of the absent party not to resume cohabitation, the absence of the opposite party’s consent, and an absence of justification for the termination of cohabitation.
- Physical Cruelty – Cruelty, justifying a divorce in South Carolina, means physical cruelty defined as actual personal violence, or such a course of physical treatment as to endanger life, limb or health, and render cohabitation unsafe. Bodily injury is not required in order to find physical cruelty; instead, one must prove that the other spouse’s conduct created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm.
- Habitual Drunkenness – To prove a spouse’s habitual drunkenness as a ground for divorce, there must be a showing that the abuse of alcohol or narcotic drugs caused the breakdown of the marriage and that such abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce. One need not be an alcoholic to be guilty of habitual drunkenness, as grounds for the grant of a divorce; it is sufficient if the use or abuse of alcohol causes the breakdown of normal marital relations.
Establishing Grounds for a Divorce on One Year Separation
You can also obtain a divorce in South Carolina without a showing of fault if you and your spouse have lived continuously physically separate and apart for one year.
Living in separate areas of the same residence does not fall within the definition of “separate and apart.”
Any evidence of co-habitation with your spouse or evidence of true reconciliation may prevent a divorce from being obtained on this ground.
To establish separation, you are not required to file an action for separate maintenance and support (sometimes improperly referred to as “legal separation”). However, it is often advisable to do so if there are no-fault grounds and the one-year separation has not elapsed.
Some Steps in the South Carolina Divorce Process
There are many steps in the divorce process. The basic steps involve:
- Filing the divorce complaint, summons and other required paperwork with the Family Court in the county where you last shared a residence with your spouse or in the county where your spouse lives or where you live (if your spouse is a non-resident).
- Serving the complaint, summons and other documents on your spouse (or spouse’s attorney) and giving the spouse 30 days to file an answer and/or counterclaim.
- Participating in an initial hearing to get a temporary order.
- Going through negotiation or mandatory mediation to resolve the issues. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps to facilitate an agreement.
- Going to Family Court trial to seek either a judge’s approval of your agreement or to hold a trial to resolve contested issues.
The Pros and Cons of a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Divorce
The State of South Carolina grants individuals the ability to represent themselves to obtain a divorce or to modify child support and child visitation. This is also known as pro se, a Latin phrase meaning “for himself.”
This seems like a great idea because—at face value—it saves these individuals from having to hire an attorney at a time when money is often tight.
Unfortunately, however, moving forward without the benefit of legal counsel may negatively impact your legal rights…and may end up costing more in the long run.
A trained family law attorney knows the process to get your children and you the best possible result. The attorneys at Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., understand that you are likely facing the most important legal battle of your life. They are trained in the law and they know how to get it done and get it done quickly.
A DIY divorce often takes a long time simply because the “do-it-yourselfers” don’t understand the legal process, including how to correctly complete the required paperwork. This often means more trips to the courthouse and more missed time from work. Sometimes the court may even dismiss the case and the divorcing couple has to file a new action, forcing them to start over from the beginning.
Other potential pitfalls include the division of assets and alimony. The do-it-yourselfers are not able to protect themselves like those with a competent attorney; and unfortunately, some provisions of the divorce decree are final and may not be changed later.
You probably wouldn’t change your own transmission, even through you technically could. Call our trained family law attorneys at Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., today. Your best chance to have a happy, successful future is worth the investment.
Your Attorney’s Role in Your South Carolina Divorce
An attorney plays a crucial role at each step of the process. Your lawyer can:
- Compile evidence that establishes the grounds for your divorce
- Respond to any defenses raised by your spouse
- Ensure all required paperwork is properly filed and served on your spouse
- Seek reasonable alimony and child support payments if you need support and meet the requirements, or challenge any unreasonable demands if you are being asked to provide support
- Thoroughly review all assets and debts in the marriage and protect your interests
- Safeguard your rights as a parent
- Stand up for you in court if your case is contested
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Divorce Attorneys
While it may seem daunting to go through a divorce, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. An experienced divorce attorney from Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., can guide you carefully through the process and help you to move on to a new chapter in your life.
Contact us today to learn more about our background and our approach to helping clients throughout Spartanburg, Greenville and surrounding areas in Upstate South Carolina who are facing the challenges of a divorce.
Sources / More information
- Title 20, Domestic Relations (Chapter 3, Divorce), South Carolina Legislature