Going through a divorce can be a painful experience. It can also involve a complicated legal process. When emotions run high, a couple that is going through a divorce may find it difficult to agree on matters such as child custody, visitation, spousal support and property division. However, a lawyer can help you to get through the process while protecting your rights and interests.
About Our Manning Divorce Lawyers
The South Carolina divorce lawyers at Land Parker Welch LLC can guide you through all aspects of your divorce. Our family-run law firm has more than 120 years of combined experience with representing clients in Manning and throughout surrounding South Carolina communities. We understand the strain that divorce places on families. We will work hard to make the process go as smoothly as possible for you.
Whether you seek a divorce in South Carolina or have been served with divorce papers from your spouse, our lawyers are ready to help. Call or reach us online today for a confidential consultation about your case.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in South Carolina?
People often ask how long it will take to get through the divorce process in South Carolina. It depends on many factors. Some divorces can be fairly straightforward. They can be resolved within a few months – especially if no minor children or significant assets are involved. However, contested divorces may take longer to resolve.
As your case progresses, you will encounter waiting periods and need to meet several deadlines. The Family Court’s docket will also impact how long it takes to resolve your case.
What you can count on is that our law firm will work hard to settle matters as efficiently as possible for you. We know how important it will be for you to move on to the next stage in your life.
Residency Requirement in a South Carolina Divorce
As we review your case with you, one of the first matters that we will consider is whether you meet the state’s residency requirement. You need to meet this requirement in order for the Family Court to have jurisdiction to handle your divorce. Under South Carolina law:
- You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year prior to filing for divorce; or
- You and your spouse must have both lived in the state for at least three months.
When you file for a divorce in South Carolina, you typically will file your paperwork in the county where you live. If you do not live in the state, then you would file divorce papers in the country where your spouse lives or where you last lived together as husband and wife. Our legal team can make sure that you file your documents in the proper court.
Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina
If you meet South Carolina’s residency requirement, your lawyer from Land Parker Welch LLC will discuss the grounds for your divorce. In South Carolina, the grounds for a divorce can fall in one of two categories:
- No-fault – You and your spouse must have lived physically and separate and apart for a period of 12 continuous months. If you and your spouse cohabitate at any point after your initial separation, then it breaks the continuity of the separation. To file for a no-fault divorce, you would need to separate and “restart” the 12-month period.
- Fault – To obtain a fault-based divorce in South Carolina, you can cite one of four grounds: Adultery, abandonment, physical cruelty or habitual drunkenness.
Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of South Carolina divorce law. We will review the facts of your case and help you to decide which grounds you can cite in your divorce. We can also compile the evidence that you will need to have and handle all necessary paperwork in your divorce.
Do You Need A Legal Separation in South Carolina?
Technically, in South Carolina you cannot file for a “legal separation.” You are either married or unmarried. Your separation begins from the date that you and your partner begin living in different places.
However, you can still seek an order for separate support and maintenance during your time apart from your spouse. Typically, you would try to reach an agreement with your spouse about matters such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support and who will live in the marital home and pay the mortgage. You and your spouse can then present this agreement to a Family Court judge for approval. The court order will remain in effect until your divorce is final.
Drafting Divorce Documents
When you are ready to file for a divorce, your attorney will draft a complaint outlining your grounds and your requests regarding property division, child custody and visitation, spousal support, responsibility for debts and other relevant matters. Your spouse will have 30 days to file an answer.
At this point, negotiations typically begin. The ultimate goal of these negotiations will be to come to an agreement that satisfies both you and your spouse and allows you to avoid a costly trial that will put critical decisions in the hands of a judge.
Contested Divorces and Mediation
A contested divorce occurs when a divorcing couple cannot agree on the grounds for the divorce or on related issues involving financial support, children and property. In South Carolina, a couple in a contested divorce must attend mediation before they can go to trial. In mediation, the spouses and attorneys will meet with an unbiased, third-party mediator who will try to facilitate an agreement on the contested issues.
Mediation does not remove your right to go to trial. You can withdraw from it at any time. However, mediation can be a way for a couple to reach an amicable resolution that keeps the divorce process from dragging along. At Land Parker Welch LLC we have extensive experience with mediation. We can help you to work with a mediator and pursue an agreement with your spouse that protects your rights and meets your goals.
South Carolina Divorce and Asset/Property Division
Family courts in South Carolina divide assets and property in a process called equitable distribution. Generally, spouses both have a right to all of the marital property acquired during the marriage. Exceptions include inheritances, gifts received by one spouse during the marriage or anything excluded in a prenuptial agreement. Anything owned by one spouse before marriage or purchased after the date of a divorce filing generally is not considered marital property.
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse on division of marital property, then a Family Court judge will divide the property. The judge would look at a variety of factors, including:
- Length of your marriage
- Marital misconduct
- Value of marital property
- Non-marital property
- Present income and potential earnings
- Physical and emotional health of both parties
- What (if any) type of training will be needed to increase a spouse’s earning potential
- Child custody arrangements
- Alimony awards
- Tax consequences
- Vested retirement benefits
- Family home
- Extramarital obligations (such as child support from a prior marriage)
- Outstanding debts or liens.
We know how important property division will be in your divorce. We will carefully evaluate the marital property that is at stake in your case. We will work hard to help you to reach an agreement with your spouse. At the same time, we will be prepared to fight for you in Family Court if that is what it takes to reach your objectives.
Contact Our South Carolina Divorce Attorneys
If you have made the difficult decision to get a divorce in South Carolina, you can count on the divorce attorneys at Land Parker Welch LLC to stand by you and protect you through every stage of the process.
We are a family-run law firm that provides that same sense of family camaraderie to each and every one of our clients. To learn more about our approach to serving our clients and to discuss how we can help you in your divorce, call or reach us online today.