South Carolina Divorce Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs
A divorce is initiated by filing a Complaint for Divorce with the Family Law Court. In South Carolina, there are two types of divorce, a fault based or a no fault based divorce depending on your particular situation. In a contested divorce, the defendant spouse is served with the summons and complaint. In an uncontested divorce, the defendant spouse is usually asked to sign all of the necessary documents including an Answer and Waiver as well as any other documents that are necessary in the uncontested divorce such a a Marital Settlement Agreement.
Some people feel that they are sophisticated enough or that their case is simple enough that the expense of a divorce attorney is not justified. Getting divorced is one of the most complicated and significant events that many people will ever encounter. The outcome of your divorce will have far reaching consequences and you need to obtain the best outcome possible. If your divorce is really uncomplicated with only a few disputed issues, then a divorce attorney can draft a marital settlement agreement. It is never a good idea to sign complicated legal papers that you do not really understand or to make agreements when you really do not know what other choices you may have. An experienced divorce attorney knows how to word the agreement so it will be fair to both parties. In many cases there will be a temporary hearing. One common mistake parties make is to attend the temporary hearing without retaining a lawyer with a resulting bad outcome.
This is what we call a contested divorce. A contested divorce sometimes results in going to trial to resolve the issues of the divorce; however, this does not always have to be the case. There are many avenues that can be taken to resolve your divorce with less emotional and financial stress that is involved when taking your divorce to trial. The goal of a negotiated settlement is to come to an agreement as to all issues related to the divorce without resorting to the court. To aid in this process, each side is allowed to make discovery requests that include Interrogatories, Requests for Production, Requests for Admission, and Depositions. A negotiation may also be reached by mediation with the defendant spouse and his or her South Carolina Divorce attorney. It is not necessary for your spouse to sign the papers in order for you to receive a divorce.
It is not absolutely necessary that you know how to contact your spouse in order to get a South Carolina Divorce. The court will require that you make a reasonable effort to locate your spouse. Usually this requires you to hire a private investigator to make a search and certify to the court that the spouse cannot be found. Then the court will allow service by publication. This consists of running an ad in the local newspaper for a certain number of weeks. The clerk of the family law court can tell you what the judge in your case will require.
A marital separation agreement is an agreement between husband and wife that sets forth how all duties and obligations are to be separated or allocated when they live separate and apart. A separation agreement can be entered into before any filing of a complaint for divorce or any time after a filing of such a complaint.
A separation agreement should include specifics on each spouse's responsibility for debts and assets. It should clearly identify all bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, as well as all real estate, automobiles and credit card accounts. Further, if the parties have minor children the document needs to state what the parenting arrangement is going to be. The document must also address issues of child support and spousal support.
Each party has an equal right to access and live in the marital home. The only way it can be changed is by court action that prevents one spouse from being in the house. Usually one party files of a divorce or temporary order and asks the judge to award them exclusive possession of the marital home during the divorce proceedings. Both parties need to remember that they can be charged with criminal domestic violence which is a serious charge. While emotions run high in a divorce or separation, you don't want to end up in jail.
Many family law lawyers do not handle criminal cases such as a charge of domestic violence. Instead of hiring two attorneys, consider retaining an attorney that handles both family law and criminal defense.
The family law court will closely review any request to move in order to be sure that it is in the best interest of the child and not for the purpose of keeping the child from the other parent. Read our article on how to prepare for your child custody relocation hearing.
To decrease the heavy burden on the South Carolina family courts, it is mandatory for parties to try and resolve their differences by divorce mediation prior to a final hearing. However, you are only required to attend and to mediate in good faith. You are not required to reach a complete marital settlement agreement during the mediation. For a full discussion, click on the link below for our article on mediation.
Your divorce trial can be a very emotional situation for both parties. It helps to know what to do or not do and what to expect in family court. Read our article on how to prepare for your day in family court.
Your South Carolina divorce decree usually contains numerous findings as to child support, custody, division of property, restraining orders, etc. However, if your ex does not comply with the order, you can't go to the police. You have to file a rule to show cause complaint in the family court and ask the judge to find your ex in contempt of court. Contempt is the willful violation of a court order. The punishments imposed for contempt issues are entirely up to the discretion of the judge. However, the maximum sentence that can be imposed for contempt of a Court Order is (a) one year in jail, (b) $1,500 fine, (c) 300 hours of community service, or (d) any combination of the above. Failure to pay child support will almost always result in jail time.
If you need to obtain a report of your South Carolina divorce, you can order one from the following site:
S.C. DHEC Vital Records Divorce
For a Divorce lawyer in Greenville,Laurens, Spartanburg or Pickens County call
Greenville Divorce Attorney
10 Century Dr., Suite B
Greenville, S.C. 29609
Wayne is a South Carolina attorney including probate, elder law, trusts, personal injury, DUI and South Carolina divorce. While his main office is in Greenville, he regularly practices in all South Carolina courts.
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