“Grounds” for divorce are essentially the legal reason that you are filing for divorce. In South Carolina, you can file under “fault-based” or “no-fault” grounds:
- Adultery (fault)
- Desertion (fault)
- Habitual drunkenness (fault)
- Physical cruelty (fault)
- Living apart for one year (no-fault)
Each of the fault-based grounds for divorce requires that you prove that your marriage is ending because of the wrongdoing of your spouse. To do this, you will need to present evidence, including witness testimony, to the family law court.
South Carolina does not allow divorce for many reasons that you may have seen on TV or in newspaper reports of divorces in other states. For example, South Carolina does not allow divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty, incompatibility, or irreconcilable differences.
Under the South Carolina no-fault divorce option, you would not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to cause the breakdown of the marriage. However, you would have to live separately for one year before you could file for a no-fault divorce. (Note that occupying separate bedrooms in the same house does not count as living apart.)
How long will my divorce last?
This is a very common question that doesn’t have a simple answer. The general answer is that most South Carolina divorces require between six and fifteen months to complete. Divorces generally take longer when the parties cannot agree on alimony or what will happen with child custody or marital property division. Although South Carolina has a requirement for a divorce to be completed within one year, a family court judge can allow a complex case of child custody or a high asset property division to take longer than a year. For more precise information, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina family law attorney.
If you are filing for one of the fault-based reasons to get divorced, you can file immediately, if the residency requirements are met. However, if you choose the no-fault option, your spouse and you will have to live apart for one year before you can file for a divorce. In the interim, you can file for what is known as a “separation agreement” and resolve temporarily many issues, including child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.
Many different things could speed up or slow down the divorce process. For example, if the parties can agree on everything, the divorce can be finished much quicker and at a lesser cost. In contrast, multiple court hearings and a trial will be necessary if your spouse and you cannot agree on property division, alimony, child custody, child support, or attorney’s fees. During a trial, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will present arguments and evidence to a family court judge, who will decide the case. You cannot have a jury trial in a divorce case.
These are just a few of the basics to a South Carolina divorce. For more information, you can visit the South Carolina legislature website or my South Carolina Divorce Guide.
Please check back on my blog, or give me a call if you need advice or answers to specific questions. To learn more about the basics of divorce, visit my previous blog post. I will be glad to help you.