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South Carolina Divorce Laws

The decision to end a marriage is often a hard one. Many of us experience cultural and religious deterrents to divorce. Also, when there are children involved, the issues of child custody and support can overwhelm and upset already unhappy couples. However, a divorce is sometimes the best option available, especially in the face of tragedies like child abuse and domestic violence.

If you’re ready to divorce in South Carolina, the following table describes the most important divorce laws that you need to know.

Code Sections South Carolina Code, Title 20: Domestic Relations, Chapter 3: Divorce
Residency Requirements At least one party must have been a resident of South Carolina for the past one year. If both residents when the action starts, only three month residency is required.
Waiting Period The final divorce decree can’t be entered until at least three months after filing unless the divorce is sought on the grounds of separation or desertion (where you’ve already had a minimum of a year apart).
Grounds for Divorce The five grounds or reasons in South Carolina are:
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty or domestic violence
  • Desertion for one year or more
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Lived apart without cohabitation for one or more year

The primary grounds for divorce modernly is “no fault.” In South Carolina, this is only the ground of living apart without cohabitation continuously for one year or more. The other four (adultery, cruelty, desertion, or addiction) have blame or fault on one spouse.

Defenses to a Divorce Filing Essentially, you can’t prevent your spouse from getting a divorce, a unilateral decision to breakup is acceptable. However, collusion is a defense or really a bar to a divorce proceeding.

Collusion is when it appears the spouses have worked together (colluded) in the divorce proceeding or complained about an act that was done for the purposes of obtaining a divorce. In that case, the court won’t grant the divorce. This statute harkens back to the days before no fault divorce.

Note: State laws change frequently, conduct your own legal research or contact an attorney to verify the state laws that you are researching.

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Get Help From a South Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you’re considering getting a divorce, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney about your legal options. Although a self-represented divorce is always an option, a lawyer can make the process easier and help you get more of what you want; and your estranged spouse likely has an attorney as well. Get started today and contact a local divorce attorney.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Divorces are tough and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Divorce lawyers can secure alimony, visitation rights, and property division

Get tailored divorce advice and ask a lawyer questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


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