South Carolina Legal Services & Divorce Video

Here is a great video on the basics of divorce in South Carolina. The video is a few years old but the concepts are still valid. Below the video is a transcript of the video if you would prefer to read. Some of the links mentioned in the video are included in the transcript.

Video Transcript

This video has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice.
Legal advice is dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of each situation. The information contained in this video cannot replace the advice of a competent licensed attorney.
Be sure to consult an attorney in your area to discuss your particular case.
I’m an attorney at South Carolina legal services. I’d like to share some basic information about divorce laws in South Carolina.
Divorce laws are different in every state so it’s easy to be confused. You might read about divorces from other states or see things on TV about divorces from other states.
First I’d like to talk about whether you will need an attorney to help you file for divorce. We always recommend that you consult an attorney if you can afford one.
If you’ve been separated from your spouse for more than one year and you agree about all of the issues in your face including children, property and debts, [then] it may be possible for you to file for divorce without the assistance of an attorney.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has approved forms for you to use to file for a divorce on your own. Those forms are available at
Once again, we recommend that you consult an attorney, if you can to obtain a divorce. In South Carolina you or your attorney must file papers, which we call pleadings, to open a court case in family court.
After the pleadings are filed, your spouse must be served. You will have one or more hearings in front of a judge. You must attend your hearings.
The phrase ‘grounds for divorce’ refers to the legal reason you’re asking the court for a divorce in South Carolina. There are five permissible reasons for divorce in your pleadings. You will state the ground that you’re trying to prove at your hearing. You will prove to the judge that you qualify for that ground.
The grounds in South Carolina include: separation for more than one year, desertion for more than one year, physical cruelty, adultery, and habitual drunkenness.
Separation for more than one year is the most common ground for divorce it is also the easiest to prove.
It simply means that you and your spouse have lived in separate homes for more than one year.
Desertion is no longer widely used for the most part. It has been replaced by the ground of separation for more one year. The divorce ground of physical cruelty refers to physical domestic violence. There are other types of domestic violence such as mental cruelty. However, physical cruelty refers to physical domestic violence.
The ground of habitual drunkenness means that your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem that has affected your marriage.
Adultery requires proof that your spouse has cheated on you.
Although the grounds of habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty and adultery do not require a separation of more than one year, it may take an extended period of time depending on the issues in your case. So now we’ve discussed the legal reason for the divorce now let’s talk about what we can ask for from the court.
In addition to the divorce itself, you can ask for your property and your belongings to be divided by the judge. You can ask for
your money and your debts to be divided by the judg.e You can ask for alimony.
Alimony is money that one spouse tastes to the other spouse there are many factors that the judge will consider to decide if alimony is appropriate for your case it’s possible that you will be
ordered to pay alimony to your spouse. It’s possible that your spouse will be ordered to pay alimony to you. It’s possible that the judge will decide that alimony is not appropriate in your case and no alimony will be ordered.
If you are a woman you can ask for the return of your maiden name. You can also ask to be returned to your previously married name. If you are a man, you cannot make your wife take back at a previous name.
If you have children with your spouse you can ask the court to determine paternity. Paternity means using DNA testing to determine who the father of the child is.
DNA testing can be expensive. You can also ask the court to consider who should have custody and to work out a visitation schedule. We encourage you to try to work out custody and visitation with your spouse if you can. Arguing about custody and visitation in court can be very time consuming very expensive and very stressful for you your spouse and your children.
If you cannot agree with your spouse about custody or visitation the court will probably or appoint a guardian ad litem.
In your case a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent your child’s best interests. The guardian ad litem will visit your home your spouse’s home and may talk to other people who are important to your children.
You and your spouse will be responsible for paying the guardian ad litem’s fees. Many guardians ad litem charge 100 to 200 dollars per hour. In some counties, you will be ordered to attend mediation if you cannot agree about your child custody and visitation issues.
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse sit down with the neutral person. That neutral person tries to see if you and your spouse can reach an agreement.
You and your spouse will be responsible for the mediators fees as well the court will almost always order the spouse that does not have custody to pay child support. Child support is usually calculated by a formula called the child support guidelines.
This calculation is based on your incomes. If you would like an estimate of how much child support might be ordered in your case you can visit the DSS child support website.
If your spouse files for divorce and you are served with divorce papers read them carefully.
You have 30 days to respond by filing an answer an answer is a written response to what your spouse has said in their pleadings you should file the answer and you should send a copy to your spouse.
We hope that you’ve learned some information about divorce in South Carolina.
If you would like to find an attorney in your area you can call the lawyer referral service number South Carolina’s legal services is a nonprofit law firm. If you cannot afford a private attorney and you have a non-criminal legal matter, you can apply for our services by calling our intake service. Our intake office is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on holidays.

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