Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.‘s guest blogger, Attorney Shawn L. Reeves, blogs on topics involving family law, which is an area that those of us at CSA do not handle. But we are dedicated, through this blog, to advancing the conversation in all areas of the law and are thus proud to bring you Shawn’s commentary. Enjoy!
I often receive calls from potential clients telling me that they just need a “simple” divorce. When I hear that, I immediately have to ask questions to find out what is meant by a “simple” divorce. If there is any dispute as to the divorce, children, property, or support, then it is potentially not a “simple” divorce. However, where no such disputes exist, then indeed the divorce process, while not necessarily “simple,” is not so complicated. For purposes of this blog post, I will refer to these as uncontested divorces.
The uncontested divorce process in South Carolina begins with the filing of a Summons and Complaint for divorce, usually on grounds of a one year separation. The Complaint alleges the following: (1) that the parties have met the jurisdictional requirements to be able to file for divorce in South Carolina, (2) that the parties have resided separate and apart without cohabitation for at least a year, and (3) that the parties have resolved all issues relating to children, property, and support between themselves.
After the Summons and Complaint have been filed, they have to be served on the Defendant, the other spouse. If the other spouse is especially cooperative, he or she can accept service without the requirement of service by process server. If that spouse does not contest the allegations of the Complaint, then the divorce hearing can be scheduled.
At the uncontested divorce hearing, the parties will testify to the judge that they have no contested issues relating to children, property, or support. They will each present Financial Declarations to the judge at that hearing. If there is a formal agreement as to children, property, or support, then the parties will ask the judge to approve any such agreement.
Also at the uncontested divorce hearing, the parties will request that the judge grant a divorce. To do that on one year separation grounds, one of the parties and a corroborating witness will testify that the parties have been separated for more than a year.
While this process is not too complicated, the parties must comply with the law and with court rules for the judge to finally grant the divorce. Therefore, having an attorney complete this process is advisable. However, for those who do not retain an attorney, the South Carolina Judicial Department has all the necessary forms available for free on its website.