We know that you need help now.
Everything that you care about is on the line – your child, your house, your money, alimony, and your future.
We will explain your rights, discuss your legal options, and provide you with a plan to get you to a better place in life.
With so much at stake, you probably have important questions about South Carolina family law, the divorce process, and the cost of a divorce lawyer, like:
Click the question to get your answer: How do I get a divorce in South Carolina?
To start a South Carolina divorce, you should file three forms with the Family Court. Those forms are: (1) Family Court cover sheet; (2) complaint; and (3) summons. You must pay a $150 court filing fee to start the case. The court clerk will sign and issue the summons upon your request. You must then hire a process server or other third party to file copies of these papers on your spouse.
You can file your South Carolina divorce papers with the S.C. Family Court clerk in: (1) the county where your spouse and you last lived together; (2) the county where your spouse lives; or (3) the county where you live, if your spouse no longer resides in South Carolina.
South Carolina allows fault-based and no-fault divorces. A fault-based divorce may be filed only if your spouse: (1) has committed adultery and you have not reconciled; (2) is addicted to drugs or alcohol; or (3) has physically abused you. South Carolina does not recognize mental cruelty as a fault-based reason for a divorce. If you do not qualify for a fault-based divorce, you must follow the procedures for a no-fault divorce.
The minimum time to get a fault-based divorce in South Carolina is 90 days from the date on which you file the divorce paperwork with the Family Court. No-fault divorces typically taken longer.
To learn more about how to get a divorce in South Carolina, please read our
South Carolina Divorce Law Summary. What are the legal grounds for divorce in South Carolina?
South Carolina permits fault-based divorce and no-fault divorce. A person can get a fault-based divorce only if her/his spouse has cheated, committed domestic violence, or is an alcoholic or drug addict. A person cannot file for a no-fault divorce while the parties still live together. For more information, read
our Charleston Divorce Guide
S.C. Code § 20-3-10 How long do you have to live in South Carolina to file for a divorce?
In South Carolina, you can file for divorce if both spouses have lived in South Carolina for the 90 days before filing for the divorce. If only one spouse lives in South Carolina, the resident spouse must have lived in South Carolina for one year before the divorce can be filed. For more information, please read our article
The Basics of Divorce. S.C. Code § 20-3-30
You can file to modify or enforce a child custody order in South Carolina if the child has lived in South Carolina for the last six months.
How do I prove adultery for a Charleston divorce?
To prove adultery in a South Carolina divorce, the innocent party must prove that the unfaithful spouse had the “inclination” and “opportunity” to commit adultery. “Inclination” means that the unfaithful spouse wanted to cheat. “Opportunity” means that the cheating spouse was close enough to another person to conclude that romantic or sexual contact occurred. Adultery can be proven without evidence of intercourse. For further information, see this article:
4 Ways Adultery Can Affect Your Charleston Divorce How do I pay for my divorce?
You can pay for your South Carolina divorce from separate funds, marital funds, credit cards, loans from friends or family, payment plans, loans from third-party lenders, or combination of these sources. Also see:
How Can I Pay For My Divorce Lawyer? How much will my divorce cost?
The cost of a South Carolina divorce can be as low as $500 or as much as $25,000 or more. Please read our article:
How Much Your Divorce Will Cost and What You Will Get In Return.
The cost of a South Carolina divorce will depend on:
Whether a person hires a divorce attorney; The hourly rate charged by the attorney; The quality of the attorney; Whether it is a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce; and Whether the parties dispute child custody, child support, alimony, property division, or other divorce issues.
To get an estimate of how much a divorce will cost, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina divorce lawyer.
If a person cannot afford a divorce attorney, the person may wish to call Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services for assistance
https://charlestonprobono.org/. The phone number for Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services is 843-853-6456.
If a person wants to try a “do it yourself” divorce, the person can access state-approved forms at the South Carolina Supreme Court website. Go to
https://www.sccourts.org/forms/searchType.cfm and search for “Family Court” forms to find the applicable forms. How long does it take to get divorced in Charleston?
A South Carolina divorce can take as little as 3 months or as long as 24 months to complete. A South Carolina fault-based divorce will require 3 to 12 months to complete. A South Carolina no-fault divorce will typically require 15 to 24 months to complete — as measured from the date on which the parties physically separated.
The length of time required to complete a South Carolina divorce will depend on:
Whether it is a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce; Whether either party hires a divorce lawyer; The complexity of the issues involved; The extent to which the parties dispute child custody, child support, alimony, property division, or other divorce issues; and Scheduling issues with the family court’s calendar.
For more information, please read our
South Carolina Divorce Law Summary. How is child custody determined in a South Carolina divorce?
Child custody is determined in South Carolina on the basis of the “best interests of the child.” South Carolina judges use 17 statutory factors to determine child custody
S.C. Code § 63-15-240(B). The more significant South Carolina child custody factors include: The needs of the child; The preferences of the child regarding child custody; The ability and willingness of each parent to understand and meet the needs of the child; The preferences of each parent regarding child custody; and The interaction and relationships of the child with parents, sibling, and others, including grandparents.
For more information, see our article:
How Will Your Charleston Judge Decide Child Custody What child custody rights do fathers have?
Fathers have the same child custody rights as mothers in South Carolina, if the parties are married when the child is born.
S.C. Code § 63-5-30. Married fathers and mothers have equal child custody rights in South Carolina. Please read our article The Truth About Five South Carolina Divorce Myths.
A father has no child custody rights in South Carolina, if the father was not married to the child’s mother when the child was born.
S.C. Code § 63-17-20(B). However, an unwed father can obtain visitation and child custody rights by filing a child paternity case and asking for child custody. The unwed father can obtain child custody rights to the same extent and through the same procedure permitted where a father is married to a mother when a child is born.
For more information, please read our article
How Your Judge Will Decide Your Charleston Child Custody Case. Should I move out of my home before my divorce?
In a South Carolina divorce, the husband should not move out of the marital home unless both parties have signed a written divorce settlement agreement. Moving out of the marital home prematurely is the most common and most serious strategic mistake that a husband can make in a South Carolina divorce. The husband can lose his kids and be forced to pay alimony for the rest of his life if he moves out too soon.
By moving out before a divorce settlement agreement has been signed, the husband will define a “new status quo” for the child custody and financial issues. The wife’s attorney will argue that the husband’s continuing payment of the mortgage and other family bills demonstrates the wife’s need for alimony and the husband’s ability to pay it. The husband will also be yielding the primary child custody role to his wife before a custodial evaluation has been performed or a judge has ruled.
If a divorce is inevitable, the husband should negotiate a written parenting plan and a financial settlement before he moves out. Since the settlement agreement will settle all of the financial and child issues in a South Carolina divorce, the husband should consult with an experienced family law attorney before doing anything. See
How to Negotiate A Divorce Settlement
The husband should move out without a signed settlement agreement in a South Carolina divorce only if: (1) there is the possibility of domestic violence; (2) a false charge of domestic violence might be filed against him; (3) the welfare of the children is in question; (4) a court order has been issued; (5) the husband wants to file a no-fault divorce: or (6) another reason that his attorney may provide.
For more information, please read our article
How to Avoid Common Tactical Mistakes in Your South Carolina Divorce. How is property divided in a South Carolina divorce?
In most South Carolina divorces, the judge will start with the presumption of dividing the value of the marital assets equally. However, the judge can deviate from a 50-50 marital property division, particularly if the substantial fault of one party has caused the divorce. For more information, see:
Protecting Your Assets in Your Charleston Divorce.
South Carolina is not a “community property” state. Instead, South Carolina is an “equitable division of property” state. Your Family Court Judge will use 16 statutory factors to decide how to divide your marital property.
S.C. Code § 20-3-630(B).
In a South Carolina divorce, a judge can give the marital home to either spouse or order the house to be sold. There is no S.C. statute or court decision that requires the judge to give the house to the husband or the wife.
How is alimony calculated in a S.C. divorce?
South Carolina does not have a formula to determine the amount of alimony that must be paid. Family Court Judges decide the amount of alimony on the basis of: (1) length of marriage; (2) income of each party; (3) cause of the divorce; (4) division of marital property; (5) physical and emotional conditions of the parties; (6) financial need for support; (7) ages of the parties; (8) standard of living during the marriage; (9) wealth of each spouse; and (10) other statutory factors.
S.C. Code § 20-3-130.
For more information, please read our article
How to Calculate Alimony in a South Carolina Divorce. Does cheating affect alimony or child custody?
South Carolina law absolutely prohibits an award of alimony to a spouse who has committed adultery.
S.C. Code § 20-3-130(A)
. Please also read our article
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charleston Alimony
Contrary to popular myth, adultery has little (if any) impact in determining child custody in South Carolina. Marital infidelity typically affects a child custody decision only if: (1) a sexual act occurs in the presence of a child; (2) the child is exposed to a significant other without prior permission; (3) the child is left in the care of a significant other; or (4) the unfaithful spouse is living with a significant other.
Can a wife kick her husband out of the marital home?
South Carolina divorce law does not require a husband to move out of the marital home unless he wants to file for a no-fault divorce. Without a court order, a wife cannot force her husband out of the marital home in a South Carolina divorce. Likewise, the police cannot force either party to leave the home in the absence of domestic violence.
Neither spouse is required to move out of the house if a fault-based divorce is filed. However, at least one of the spouses must move out before a no-fault divorce can be filed, as stated in
S.C. Code § 20-3-10(5). Do I have to wait one year to file for a no-fault divorce in South Carolina?
The no-fault divorce process in South Carolina can start when the parties physically separate from each other. A person does not have to wait one year to start a no-fault divorce. However, a South Carolina no-fault divorce cannot be completed until the parties have been living apart from each other for one continuous year.
Most people do a South Carolina no-fault divorce in two steps: (1) one spouse will file immediately an action for separate maintenance and support (often identified as a legal separation); and (2) one spouse will file a no-fault divorce case after the parties have been separated for 12 months.
In a South Carolina action for separate maintenance and support (a/k/a a legal separation), all matters will be resolved regarding: (a) financial issues, including division of marital property and alimony; and (b) child custody, including legal decision making authority, parenting time, and child support. A South Carolina legal separation case typically takes 3 to 8 months to complete.
The parties will still be legally married after they complete the action for separate maintenance and support. They will remain married until one of them files a complaint for a South Carolina no-fault divorce and a judgment of divorce is entered.
After the parties have been living separately for 365 consecutive days, either spouse can file a complaint for a South Carolina no-fault divorce. If the parties previously resolved their financial and child custody issues through an action for separate maintenance and support, the no-fault divorce hearing will require about 15 minutes of court time to complete. The final divorce hearing can be scheduled for 3 months after the date on which the no-fault divorce case has been filed. At the conclusion of the hearing, the parties will be legally divorced.
How much child support will be paid?
South Carolina child support is calculated on the basis of the number of children and combined income of the parties and their child-related expenses. Please read our article
How to Calculate Child Support in a Charleston Divorce.
South Carolina Family Court Judges determine child support on the basis of:
The number of children that are affected by the child support order. The number of nights the child will spend with each parent during a calendar year. The annual income of each parent? If a parent is not fully employed, the income that should be imputed to that parent. How much is paid monthly by which parent for the child’s health insurance. How much is paid by which parent for work-related child-care costs.
To estimate how much child support you may receive or owe, use
this child support calculator from the South Carolina Department of Social Services. How do I get my spouse to move out of the house?
There are 4 ways to get your spouse to move out of the marital home in South Carolina: (1) negotiate with your spouse to move out; (2) obtain an order of protection,
S.C. Code Ann. § 20-4-60(c)(3)
; (3) move out, start a no-fault divorce case, and request a temporary order to give you exclusive possession of the home; or (4) file a fault-based divorce case and request a temporary order to make your spouse move out.
We care about the life that you will lead after your case ends.
Our team of attorneys will focus with you on what you want your life to be after your divorce becomes final. We will develop a strategy for:
Achieving your objectives. Dividing your marital property for your maximum benefit. Strengthening your role in making major decisions for your child under the child custody order. Maximizing the time that will you spend with your child as part of the parenting plan in your divorce. Getting through your divorce with the minimum emotional and financial costs. And, much more . . .
Working together, we will help you build a better future for you and your family.
The divorce process is different here.
You need a full-time divorce and child custody attorney – a lawyer who devotes his time exclusively to divorce and child custody clients. And, that’s what you will get with us.
We intentionally limit the types of cases that we handle. We only represent divorce and child custody clients. We do not represent people with personal injury, criminal, DUI, business, real estate, probate, or other cases.