The Divorce Process in Lexington, South Carolina
While most divorce proceedings are similar across the nation, there are certain things which are unique to the state of South Carolina. At my firm, I see individuals and families all the time who are faced with divorce and have no idea what they should do next. This can be such a confusing time, and I want you to know that you do not have to go through it alone. By working with a Lexington divorce lawyer, such as me, you can get supportive guidance through every step of the process. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that you will have a knowledgeable advocate on your side.
Walking You Through the Steps of Divorce
If you reside in South Carolina, the first step of divorce is the service of the summons and the complaint; essentially, this is the paperwork which outlines what you and your spouse both want. If you served your spouse, they will be considered the defendant (and vice-versa); after being served, the defendant will have a total of thirty days in which to file a formal written response to the summons and complaint. Their counterclaim can include a request for any other form of relief that they desire.
Depending on the circumstances, the court may at this time order both of the parties to attend mediation. Mediation is an out-of-court solution to working through issues that may otherwise eat up a lot of time, energy and money in the courtroom. Many people find that it is a less volatile form of resolution, and allows for a more peaceful environment where issues such as child custody and visitation can be sorted out. In some cases, the court may also order a parenting course.
If spouses are able to come to an agreement, their attorneys can present it to the Family Court during a hearing with the request of judge to issue an official court order. If, however, divorcing spouses are unable to come to an amiable agreement in mediation, they will move toward trial; this will happen two months after the service of the summons and complain, except in cases involving separation.
During the trial, with the help of their attorneys, both sides will present their case to the court—showcasing evidence that proves why they should receive what they are asking for, regardless of whether it is custody of the children or alimony payments. In some cases, the spouses will need to attend a temporary hearing to work our issues prior to the final hearing; this is used to present evidence by affidavit. In most cases, except those involving separation, a final decree can be granted three months after initial service.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, there are five grounds for divorce, which include the following:
- Separation for at least a year
- Physical cruelty
- Habitual drunkenness
Mental cruelty and incompatibility are not considered legitimate grounds for divorce. The only form of "no fault" divorce in the state involves situations where spouses have been separated for at least one year. Prior to granting a divorce, the Family Court is required to determine whether or not there have been efforts to reconcile the spouses; it can only be granted once it has been determined that either efforts at reconciliation have failed or would not be practical. The Court must also receive evidence which properly proves one of the grounds has been met before the divorce can be granted.
Working with a Knowledgeable South Carolina Divorce Attorney
When you are looking to dissolve your marriage, it is in your best interests to get the involvement of a qualified divorce lawyer on your side. Not only can an attorney help guide you through the entire divorce process, but they can be there to look out for you when no one else is.
According to the South Carolina Bar, the following is a lawyer's role during divorce:
"A lawyer's job is to represent your best interests in legal proceedings and in court. When you are properly advised of your legal rights and obligations, you can better understand what a divorce settlement should involve. … By providing both practical and legal advice, your lawyer can help guide you through the divorce process."
An attorney's role is multi-faceted in your divorce—not only are they there to help represent your best interests, but also to offer practice and legal advice, and to help you fully understand the divorce process. For this reason, I highly encourage you to reach out and contact my firm today. As a past president of the Lexington County Bar, you can trust that I have the experience necessary to helping you during this troubling time.
I am available 24/7 to help with your urgent problems. Call (803) 393-4394 or fill out my online form! I look forward to hearing from you.