How to file for divorce in SC?
First, talk to a divorce lawyer in SC. Below we will go over some general information about how to file for divorce in SC, but none of what you read here is legal advice - your attorney will be able to give you advice about the law as it applies to the unique facts of your case and your situation.
What is the procedure for divorce in SC? What documents must be filed, when do I have grounds for a divorce, and how do I prove it?
Why do I need a divorce lawyer in SC?
What's the Procedure for Divorce in SC?
If I want to know how to file for divorce in SC, the first question I have is what's the procedure for divorce in SC?
Where do I start?
Divorce proceedings are different for everyone - for many, negotiations to protect your financial interests and your children are the first step. In most cases, it is going to be in your best interests to negotiate and sign a separation agreement before or near the beginning of your divorce proceedings.
You will also need to file legal documents that tell the Court what relief you are asking for, what your grounds for divorce are, yours and your spouse's financial status, and what the situation is with your children if you have children.
What are the Documents that I Need to File for Divorce in SC?
The first document to file for divorce in SC is called the Complaint.
The Complaint sets out your grounds for divorce, the facts that give the Court jurisdiction over your case, and the specific relief that you are asking for. Where the Complaint is filed depends on where you live and where your spouse lives - do both of you live in SC? Do both of you live in the same county?
If you file your Complaint in the wrong county or state, the Court will dismiss your divorce action and you will need to start over in the correct venue...
The Complaint must be served on your spouse along with a Summons and a Financial Declaration form, and you may need to prove to the Court that they were properly served. This can be done through certified mail, through the Sheriff's Office, or by using a professional process server.
When your spouse receives your Divorce Complaint, they must then respond by filing and serving an Answer on you or your attorney.
The Answer responds to the allegations in the Complaint, either admitting them or denying them and, in some cases, may include counterclaims. Like the Complaint, the Answer must be filed and served along with a Financial Declaration form.
Other documents that you may need to file for divorce in SC may include:
- A motion requesting a temporary or emergency hearing depending on your circumstances;
- Motions asking for other specific relief as the case is pending;
- A Separation Agreement or Settlement Agreement;
- Discovery requests like Interrogatories, Requests to Produce, and Requests to Admit;
- Responses to your spouse's discovery requests; and
- A proposed Order for the Court to sign following the final hearing or any temporary hearings;
Do I Have Grounds for Divorce in SC?
If you have fault-based grounds for divorce in SC, you must plead those in the Complaint and be prepared to prove them at your divorce hearing.
If you do not have fault-based grounds for divorce, your final divorce hearing must be scheduled for a date after you have continuously lived separate and apart for a full year.
How do I Prove my Claims in SC Divorce Proceedings?
You can prove your claims with any admissible documents, recordings, photographs, financial records, affidavits, or testimony that you submit to the court at hearings or at your divorce trial.
Your evidence may be gathered from any source including:
- The discovery process;
- Your attorney;
- Your family; or
- Your private investigator.
Why do I Need a Divorce Lawyer in SC?
Your divorce lawyer will answer your questions that are specific to your situation, and draft your pleadings asking for specific relief based on the unique facts of your case.
Your attorney's goal is to "win your case." In some cases, that means getting everything that you want and ask for within reason - your attorney has a duty and obligation to you, not your spouse.
In other cases, it means making sure that you are protected. Many people who are experiencing the emotional trauma of divorce are not making good decisions about their financial future - your attorney's job is to help you make those decisions objectively so that your financial security is protected.
In many cases, your attorney's goal is also to ensure that your children are protected and that you keep custody of your children. Issues that you need to think about before filing for divorce in SC include:
- Child custody;
- Child visitation;
- Child support;
- Alimony or spousal support;
- Health insurance issues - for yourself and for your children;
- Division of assets - money, 401K, retirement accounts, real property like the marital home, vehicles, and personal property; and
- Negotiation - you need an attorney to negotiate on your behalf.
Why do I Need a Divorce Lawyer to Negotiate?
In many cases, a large part of the divorce process is negotiation - what goes into the settlement agreement or separation agreement? Can we decide the major issues before the final hearing?
If we can, the process will go much more smoothly. If we cannot, we will have a contested trial with a family court judge who will decide the issues for us...
The emotional upheaval that couples are experiencing during a separation and divorce can make it impossible to effectively negotiate. You or your spouse may be angry and may be hurting - the worst possible time to attempt to negotiate your future and the future of your children.
Your attorney and your spouse's attorney may be able to bring some objectivity to the negotiations that can help settle difficult issues - based on the attorneys' experience, what is the Court likely to decide if the case were to go to trial? What are you or your spouse entitled to?
What is the best possible outcome for you and your children?
If you are considering separation or divorce from your spouse, talk to your SC divorce attorney on the Axelrod team as soon as possible. We will answer your questions, help prepare your documents, and help you to negotiate a favorable outcome whenever possible.
Depending on your goals and your circumstances, we may negotiate the best possible outcome for you, or we may go to war to protect you and your children.