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DO IT YOURSELF DIVORCE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

Filing a divorce yourself in South Carolina is very common, especially when your divorce is uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse both agree on all the issues related to dissolving your marriage. You come to an agreement on your own, so all you need to do is complete and file the proper paperwork with the court to have your South Carolina divorce finalized.

Divorce Grounds in South Carolina

South Carolina recognizes no-fault and fault divorces. Under no-fault, both parties must live apart for at least one year; fault divorce requires proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken due to adultery, desertion (for a period of one year), physical cruelty, or substance abuse. The no-fault ground is the most popular ground for people who file their own divorce.

South Carolina Residency Rules for Divorce

Either the plaintiff or the defendant must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least one year; however, when both spouses are residents, only the plaintiff must have resided in the state for three months.

South Carolina Divorce Process

To begin the action, the plaintiff completes a Summons and a Complaint for Divorce as well as a Family Court Cover Sheet and a Financial Declaration Form, and then files the divorce papers with the Clerk of Court, Family Court Division in the appropriate county.

South Carolina online divorce process The plaintiff serves the divorce papers on the defendant in one of four ways: U.S. Mail, personal service, service by the Sheriff's Office, or a private Process Server.

When a defendants financial condition is relevant or is an issue to be considered by the Court, which happens in a majority of divorce cases, he or she files a Financial Declaration.

When the defendant has not filed an Answer, a formal response to the Complaint, or an Answer that agrees with all the stipulations in the complaint 35 days after the service of process, the plaintiff proceeds with the final divorce by default. This means that the plaintiff proceeds without opposition and completes a Request for Hearing and an Affidavit of Default for Divorce and files a copy of a return receipt or other affidavit showing proper service was performed.

The Clerk of Court mails the plaintiff a Notice of Hearing, which sets a court date, and the plaintiff mails a copy to the defendant, by certified mail, return receipt requested. Once the signed green card is returned, the plaintiff completes an Affidavit of Service by Mailing in front of a Notary Public. If the envelope and card are returned unsigned, the plaintiff should bring the returned envelope to the divorce hearing. Here is more information regarding the process of filing uncontested divorce papers in South Carolina.

Before the hearing, the plaintiff completes a Final Order of Divorce and a Report of Divorce or Annulment. The plaintiff must also have one person testify at the hearing who has personal knowledge that the spouses lived separate and apart for one year. On the day of the hearing, the plaintiff brings the Final Order of Divorce and Annulment to court, along with the witness.

At the hearing the judge asks questions about the paperwork, the marriage, and the separation. The judge signs the Final Order of Divorce. A divorce is not final until the order is signed and filed with the Clerk of Court. An uncontested case takes about three months. Learn the best ways to save money when doing your own divorce in South Carolina.

Do It Yourself Online Divorce in South Carolina

Our online software makes it easy to file your own South Carolina divorce. In as little as 20 minutes you can have all your completed divorce forms and filing instructions ready for signing and filing. Instantly access your completed divorce forms after a short online interview. It is that easy, no lengthy completion or delivery times. See if you qualify below:

South Carolina Property Division

South Carolina is an equitable distribution state. Courts encourage the spouses to settle property and debts, but if they cannot agree, then the court decides. An equitable distribution of the marital property does not necessarily mean equal; it means fair.

In dividing marital property, the court considers many factors, including the duration of the marriage the length of the marriage; the age of the spouses; the current value of the property; the contribution each spouse made to the acquisition of the property; the income of each spouse; the earning potential of each spouse; the health of each spouse; the need of each spouse; the separate property of each spouse; the retirement benefits of each spouse; the tax consequences; the expenses and debts of each spouse; the custody arrangement if children are involved; and any other relevant factors.

In addition, the courts may consider marital fault or misconduct. Financial misbehavior - for example, habitual gambling - may be a factor in the division of property.

After the court classifies assets as marital or non-marital, it divides and distributes the marital property equitably. As in other jurisdictions, divorcing couples normally sell the marital home and divide the profits, or sell the home to one party and refinance, or the custodial parent occupies the house until the last child leaves school and then sell it.

The court may include the retirement benefits and plans earned by both spouses as marital assets available for division. Retirement plans are either Defined Contribution Plans (DC), such as a 401(k), or Defined Benefit Plans (DB), which is the company pension. That part of a pension accumulated during a marriage is community property and subject to distribution. When spouses share in each other's pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be prepared. The QDRO spells out the terms and conditions of the pension distribution.

South Carolina Alimony

Spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis, and either party may seek spousal support. Either the spouses or the courts decide the amount and duration of support (if any).

When deciding the terms of spousal support, the court considers factors such as duration of the marriage and the respective ages of both parties, the standard of living during the marriage, and the custody of children, and "such other factors the court considers relevant."

Unlike many other states, South Carolina also permits courts to consider marital misconduct as a factor in alimony, and the court does not award alimony to any spouse who commits adultery before the court issues a written property settlement or permanent order of separate maintenance. In South Carolina alimony influences the distribution of property, and it can become intricately involved in a divorce settlement.

South Carolina Child Custody

In South Carolina, the primary consideration in awarding custody is the best interests of the child, not who ought to be the custodian.

The court considers the child's preference to be important. The court may consider the choice a child makes if the judge feels the child is mature enough to make such a decision and the logic behind the choice is reasonable.

The courts are prohibited from choosing a custodian based solely on the parent's financial status or gender; however, South Carolina courts consider religious issues when deciding a child's best interest -- one of only a few states to do so. In addition to the religious faith of the parents and child, the South Carolina courts consider the wishes or preferences of the child as to custody, provided that he or she is mature enough to make such preferences, which is normally 12 or older; any history of domestic violence, child abuse, negligence, or substance abuse; and any other factors that directly affect the child's welfare such as the nature of the parents' divorce.

South Carolina has abolished the Tender Years Doctrine, the principle that only a mother can adequately care for an infant or very young child. However, if parents have never been married, South Carolina considers the mother to have sole custody unless, and until, the father petitions the court to change that status quo.

At the courts discretion, the judge may require divorcing parents with minor children to complete a parenting class before granting a divorce. Many parents comply by taking the Children In Between online.

South Carolina Child Support

South Carolina uses the Income Shares model to determine child support. In this routine, a child receives the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have been received if the parents had not divorced because in an intact household, both parents pool their income and spend it for the benefit of all household members, including any children. Income shares considers the gross income of both parents and then establishes the proportion each contributes and divides it among their minor children.

If the noncustodial parent earns more than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent assumes a higher share of the child's support, but if the noncustodial parent earns less than the custodial parent, he or she pays a smaller share of the support.

Sometimes, courts consider extraordinary expenses, independent income, seasonal fluctuation in parents' income, special needs as well "any other reason that should be considered to make child support more equitable." Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive.

Likewise, extraordinary expenses can be either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment paid by the noncustodial parent, or a deduction, where it is subtracted. Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. The court may deviate from child support guidelines when it finds that their application "would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child."

South Carolina Service of Process for Divorce

The defendant may be served in one of four ways: U.S. Mail, personal service, service by the sheriff's office, or a private process server.

A Simple Divorce Process
Step 1 See if you qualify & create account!
Step 2 Answer the questions at your own pace.
Step 3 Print, sign and file your divorce forms with your local court (instantly review & print your forms online or have them sent US Priority Mail at no additional charge).

START HERE

Only $299 (flat-fee)

or 2 monthly payments of $157
or 3 monthly payments of $109
or 4 monthly payments of $84
Payment Options Do Not Delay Divorce
Instant Delivery - Instant Changes
100% Guarantee of Court Approval
or Your Money Back
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