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South Carolina Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of South Carolina divorce.

You can get more specific information regarding South Carolina divorce laws using the links provided to South Carolina divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

South Carolina Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements In order to institute an action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony the plaintiff must have resided in this State at least one year prior to the commencement of the action or, if the plaintiff is a nonresident, the defendant must have so resided in this State for this period.
Where to File Actions for divorce from the bonds of matrimony or for separate support and maintenance must be tried in the county in which the defendant resides at the time of the commencement of the action, or in which the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a nonresident.
Grounds for Divorce Grounds for divorce are:
  • Adultery
  • Desertion for a period of one year
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness; provided, that this ground shall be construed to include habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug
  • On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year. A plea of res judicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution In a proceeding for divorce or separate support and maintenance, or in a proceeding for disposition of property following a prior decree of dissolution of a marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over an absent spouse or which lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the property, and in other marital litigation between the parties, the court shall make a final equitable apportionment between the parties of the parties' marital property upon request by either party in the pleadings.

In making apportionment, the court must give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:
  • The duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance or other marital action between the parties
  • marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce as such, if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage
  • The value of the marital property, whether the property be within or without the State. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in value of the marital property, including the contribution of the spouse as homemaker; provided, that the court shall consider the quality of the contribution as well as its factual existence
  • The income of each spouse, the earning potential of each spouse, and the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets
  • The health, both physical and emotional, of each spouse
  • The need of each spouse or either spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouses's income potential
  • the nonmarital property of each spouse
  • the existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse
  • whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded
  • the desirability of awarding the family home as part of equitable distribution or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children
  • the tax consequences to each or either party as a result of any particular form of equitable apportionment
  • the existence and extent of any support obligations, from a prior marriage or for any other reason or reasons, of either party
  • liens and any other encumbrances upon the marital property, which themselves must be equitably divided, or upon the separate property of either of the parties, and any other existing debts incurred by the parties or either of them during the course of the marriage
  • child custody arrangements and obligations at the time of the entry of the order
  • such other relevant factors as the trial court shall expressly enumerate in its order
The court's order as it affects distribution of marital property shall be a final order not subject to modification except by appeal or remand following proper appeal.
Child Custody In any action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony the court may at any stage of the cause, or from time to time after final judgment, make such orders touching the care, custody and maintenance of the children of the marriage and what, if any, security shall be given for the same as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case and the best spiritual as well as other interests of the children may be fit, equitable and just.

In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon the preference based upon the child's age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference.

In making a decision regarding custody of a minor child, in addition to other existing factors specified by law, the court must give weight to evidence of domestic violence as defined in Section 16 25 20 or Section 16 25 65 including, but not limited to: physical or sexual abuse; and if appropriate, evidence of which party was the primary aggressor, as defined in Section 16 25 70.

The mother and father are the joint natural guardians of their minor children and are equally charged with the welfare and education of their minor children and the care and management of the estates of their minor children; and the mother and father have equal power, rights, and duties, and neither parent has any right paramount to the right of the other concerning the custody of the minor or the control of the services or the earnings of the minor or any other matter affecting the minor. Each parent, whether the custodial or noncustodial parent of the child, has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational records and medical records of their minor children and the right to participate in their children's school activities unless prohibited by order of the court. Neither parent shall forcibly take a child from the guardianship of the parent legally entitled to custody of the child
Child Support In any proceeding for the award of child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines required under Section 43-5-580(b) is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. A different amount may be awarded upon a showing that application of the guidelines in a particular case would be unjust or inappropriate. When the court orders a child support award that varies significantly from the amount resulting from the application of the guidelines, the court shall make specific, written findings of those facts upon which it bases its conclusion supporting that award. Findings that rebut the guidelines must state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines.

The court shall consider the following factors which may be possible reasons for deviation from the guidelines or may be used in determining whether a change in circumstances has occurred which would require a modification of an existing order:
  • Educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse, to include those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, other secondary schools, or post-secondary education where there is tuition or related costs
  • Equitable distribution of property
  • Consumer debts
  • Families with more than six children
  • Unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent
  • Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees
  • Support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or noncourt ordered child support from another relationship
  • Child-related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses
  • Monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law
  • Significant available income of the child or children
  • Substantial disparity of income in which the noncustodial parent's income is significantly less than the custodial parent's income, thus making it financially impracticable to pay what the guidelines indicate the noncustodial parent should pay
  • Alimony. Because of their unique nature, lump sum, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or any other alimony that the court may award, may be considered by the court as a possible reason for deviation from these guidelines
  • Agreements reached between parties. The court may deviate from the guidelines based on an agreement between the parties if both parties are represented by counsel or if, upon a thorough examination of any party not represented by counsel, the court determines the party fully understands the agreement as to child support. The court still has the discretion and the independent duty to determine if the amount is reasonable and in the best interest of the child or children
Spousal Support In every divorce action from the bonds of matrimony either party may in his or her complaint or answer or by petition pray for the allowance to him or her of alimony and suit money and for the allowance of such alimony and suit money pendente lite. If such claim shall appear well-founded the court shall allow a reasonable sum therefor.

In proceedings for divorce from the bonds of matrimony, and in actions for separate maintenance and support, the court may grant alimony or separate maintenance and support in such amounts and for such term as the court considers appropriate as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of case may be just, pendente lite, and permanently. No alimony may be awarded a spouse who commits adultery before the earliest of these two events: the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties.

In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:
  • The duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties
  • The physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • The educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse's income potential
  • The employment history and earning potential of each spouse
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses
  • The current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses
  • The marital and nonmarital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action
  • Custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature
  • Marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties
  • The tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded
  • The existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party
  • Such other factors the court considers relevant


South Carolina Divorce Attorneys by County

South Carolina Divorce Mediators by County


DISCLAIMER:
This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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