South Carolina: State Divorce Laws

Residency and Filing Requirements:

In order to file for a divorce in South Carolina, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:

In order to institute an action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony the plaintiff must have resided in this State at least one year prior to the commencement of the action or, if the plaintiff is a nonresident, the defendant must have so resided in this State for this period; provided, that when both parties are residents of the State when the action is commenced, the plaintiff must have resided in this State only three months prior to commencement of the action.

Actions for divorce from the bonds of matrimony or for separate support and maintenance must be tried in the county (a) in which the defendant resides at the time of the commencement of the action, (b) in which the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a nonresident or after due diligence cannot be found, or (c) in which the parties last resided together as husband and wife unless the plaintiff is a nonresident, in which case it must be brought in the county in which the defendant resides. (Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-30, 20-3-60, 20-3-80)

Contact a Divorce Lawyer at Williams & Williams Attorneys at Law in Orangeburg South Carolina to begin your divorce today. Call 803-534-5218 to set up your free initial consultation.

Grounds for Filing:

The Complaint for Divorce must declare the appropriate South Carolina grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:

No divorce from the bonds of matrimony shall be granted except upon one or more of the following grounds:

No-Fault:
(1) on the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year.

Fault:
(1) adultery; (2) desertion for a period of one year; (3) physical cruelty; (4) habitual drunkenness; provided, that this ground shall be construed to include habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug. (Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-10)

Filing Spouse Title:

Plaintiff. The Plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.

Non-Filing Spouse Title:

Defendant. The Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial divorcepapers, but rather receives them by service.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer at Williams & Williams Attorneys at Law in Orangeburg South Carolina to begin your divorce today. Call 803-534-5218 to set up your free initial consultation.

Counseling or Mediation Requirements:

In all cases referred to a master or special referee, such master or special referee shall, except in default cases, summon the party or parties within the jurisdiction of the court before him and shall in all cases make an earnest effort to bring about a reconciliation between the parties if they appear before him. No judgment ofdivorce shall be granted in such case unless the master or special referee to whom such cause may have been referred shall certify in his report or, if the cause has not been referred, unless the trial judge shall state in the decree that he has attempted to reconcile the parties to such action and that such efforts were unavailing. (Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-80, 20-3-90)

Child Custody:

In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child’s reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon the preference based upon the child’s age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference. The court will also consider evidence of domestic violence, the current situation and nature of the divorce, and the religious faith of the parents. The court will not award custody based upon the gender of the parent. (Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-100, 20-7-1520)

Child Support:

South Carolina child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent’s income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2’s and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.

In any proceeding for the award of child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. A different amount may be awarded upon a showing that application of the guidelines in a particular case would be unjust or inappropriate.

The court shall consider the following factors which may be possible reasons for deviation from the guidelines: (1) educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse; (2) equitable distribution of property; (3) consumer debts; (4) families with more than six children; (5) unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent; (6) mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees; (7) support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or non-court ordered child support from another relationship; (8) child-related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses; (9) monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law; (10) significant available income of the child or children; (11) substantial disparity of income in which the noncustodial parent’s income is significantly less than the custodial parent’s income; (12) alimony. (13) agreements reached between parties. (Code of Laws for South Carolina – Chapter 3; Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-40, 20-7-100)

To begin your divorce today contact the Divorce Lawyers at Williams & Williams Attorneys at Law in Orangeburg, South Carolina at 803-534-5218 to set up your free initial consultation.

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