South Carolina Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorce in South Carolina
The spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least one year, unless both spouses are residents, in which case the spouse filing must only have been a resident for three months. There is a required 90-day delay from the time of filing to the time of the final decree of divorce. The divorce may be filed for in:
- The county where the defendant resides;
- The county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant does not live in South Carolina or cannot be found; or
- The county where the spouses last lived together if both still live in South Carolina. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-30, 20-3-60, and 20-3-80].
Reasons for Divorce in South Carolina
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in South Carolina those are fault and general.In order to file for divorce in South Carolina, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault grounds for a divorce in South Carolinainclude:
- Living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Section 20-3-10].
General reasons fordivorce in South Carolinainclude:
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Physical cruelty; and
- Willful desertion for one year. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Section 20-3-10].
Custody of the Children in South Carolina
In awarding child custody, the factors for consideration are as follows:
- The circumstances of the spouses;
- The nature of the case;
- The religious faith of the parents and child;
- The welfare of the child; and
- The best spiritual and other interests of the child.
The parents both have equal rights regarding any award of custody of children. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-100, and 20-7-1520].
Property Distribution in South Carolina
South Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state. Each spouse is entitled to keep his or her non-marital property, consisting of property:
- Which was acquired prior to the marriage;
- Acquired by gift or inheritance;
- Acquired in exchange for non-marital property; or
- Was acquired due to an increase in the value of any non-marital property.
All other property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, based on a consideration of the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age of the spouses;
- Any marital misconduct;
- Any economic misconduct;
- The value of the marital property;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- The income of each spouse;
- The earning potential of each spouse and the opportunity for the future acquisition of capital assets;
- The physical and emotional health of each spouse;
- The needs of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve his or her earning potential;
- The non-marital property of each spouse;
- Any retirement benefits;
- Whether alimony has been awarded;
- The desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse having custody of any children;
- The tax consequences;
- Any other support obligations of either spouse;
- Any marital debts of the spouses;
- Any child custody arrangements; and
- Any other relevant factors. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-7-472 and 20-7-473].
South Carolina Spousal Support Guidelines
Either spouse may be awarded alimony. The factors for consideration are:
- The duration of the marriage and the ages of the spouses when married and when divorced;
- The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses;
- The educational background of each spouse and the need of additional training or education to reach the spouse’s income potential;
- The employment history and earning capacity of each spouse;
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The current and expected earnings of each spouse;
- The marital and separate property of each spouse;
- The custody of any children and its effect on the ability of the custodial spouse to work full-time;
- Any marital misconduct;
- Any tax consequences;
- Any prior support obligations;
- The current and expected expenses and needs of both spouses; and
- Any other relevant factors.
The court may require the posting of bond as security for the payment of alimony and may require a spouse to carry life insurance and name the other spouse as beneficiary. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-120, 20-3-130, 20-3-140 and South Carolina Case Law].
South Carolina Child Support Guidelines
Both parents have joint responsibility for child support. The court may require income withholding for the guarantee of child support payments. There are official child support guidelines which are presumed to be correct unless one of the following factors requires a deviation from the amount:
- Educational expenses for the child or a spouse;
- The equitable distribution of property;
- Any consumer debts;
- If the family has more than six children;
- Unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses of either parent;
- Mandatory retirement deductions of either parent;
- Support obligations for other dependents;
- Unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses of the child;
- Other court-ordered payments;
- Any available income of the child;
- A substantial disparity in the income of the parents which makes it impractical for the non-custodial parent to pay the guideline amount;
- The effect of alimony on the circumstances; and
- Any agreements between the spouses, if in the best interests of the child. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-40, 20-7-100, 20-7-852, 20-7-1315, and 43-5-580 and South Carolina Case Law].
The court may refer the spouses to a referee, who must make an honest effort to bring about a reconciliation between the spouses. In such cases, no divorce may be granted unless certified by the judge or the referee that the reconciliation efforts were unsuccessful. No final decree will be granted until 3 months after the initial filing of the complaint. [Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-80, 20-3-90, and 20-7-850].