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South Carolina Divorce Laws

Divorce, or the dissolution of marriage in legal terms, is regulated by state laws, as are marriage and other family matters. State divorce laws determine which grounds are acceptable for divorce, whether the parties are even eligible for divorce, and the steps required to finalize the divorce. Some states also have waiting periods, require at least one party to be a resident for a certain period of time, or mandate legal separation prior to divorce.

A "no-fault" divorce may be obtained in every state, which means neither party is responsible for the divorce, typically stated on court documents as "irreconcilable differences" or "irretrievable breakdown." However, states will grant a divorce if one of the parties is able to prove cause, such as bigamy or domestic violence.

This article provides a general overview of divorce laws in the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina Divorce Laws: At a Glance

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

§ 20 et seq. of the South Carolina Code

Residency Requirements

If only one party is a resident, must have been a resident for one year before filing. If both parties are residents, then only need to be residents for three months prior to filing

Waiting Period

Three months after filing unless separation for one year or desertion, then the court may finalize after a responsive pleading is filed or the defendant is in default, whichever happens first

Grounds for Divorce

The primary ground for divorce modernly is “no-fault." The five grounds or reasons (fault or no-fault) in South Carolina are:
  • Adultery (fault)
  • Cruelty or domestic violence (fault)
  • Desertion for one year or more (fault)
  • Drug or alcohol addiction (fault)
  • Lived apart without cohabitation for one or more year (no-fault)

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

Collusion is the only defense

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

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. Keep in mind that your estranged spouse likely has an attorney as well.

Get started today and contact a local divorce attorney.

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  • Divorces are tough and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
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