In South Carolina there are 5 grounds of legal reasons for divorce. They are 1) separation of spouses for at least 1 year (the so-called "no fault" divorce); 2) adultery; 3) physical cruelty; 4) habitual drunkenness (including habitual use of narcotic drugs and 5) desertion for a period of one year. Mental cruelty and incompatibility are not grounds for divorce in South Carolina.
South Carolina has a statewide system of specialized courts known as Family Courts which handle all marital litigation.
The family courts are authorized, among other things, to rule on whether to grant a divorce, on issues of custody, child support, and alimony, and on equitable division of marital property.
A divorce action is a court case in which one spouse sues the other spouse requesting that the Court grant a divorce.
The process begins by the service of a summons and complaint which are legal papers setting out what the Plaintiff or party starting the suit wants. The Defendant or party on whom the summons and complaint are served has 30 days after being served to file a formal written response and answer and to request any other relief counterclaims. Each party must also file a financial declaration.
Sometimes spouses can reach an agreement and settle their case. Then the Family Court holds a hearing in which the attorneys present the agreement to the Judge and request that the judge make it into a court order. If the parties cannot agree, each party can present evidence at a trial, and the Judge will decide the issue.
Before a divorce can be granted, the Court must determine that efforts at getting the husband and wife back together have failed or that attempts at reconciliation would not be practical. Corroboration or verifying testimony about the grounds is necessary before the Court will grant a divorce.
This information was prepared to give you some general information on the law. It is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the law you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, you can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The number is 799-7100 in Richland or Lexington Counties, and 1-800-868-2284 from other parts of the state.