Getting a divorce can be an emotional, time-consuming, and complicated process. While most married couples want to get through divorce proceedings as soon as possible, sometimes a spouse refuses to make a good-faith effort to engage in the divorce process once it’s been initiated.

Maybe they don’t believe the marriage is over. There may be a dispute over who owns property that used to be shared. The spouse may not want to financially support their former spouse and any children they have once the marriage is over. Whatever the reason, a spouse contesting a divorce can make an already painful process that much worse.

If you’re in the middle of a contentious divorce, call the South Carolina divorce lawyers at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC. For decades, our Rock Hill family law attorneys have helped people in Rock Hill and throughout South Carolina navigate the divorce process. We’ve received numerous honors for our work, including an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

We know how difficult going through a divorce can be, which is why we’re available to answer any questions you may have. Talk to one of our experienced South Carolina divorce lawyers today by calling our office in Rock Hill or going to our contact page.

South Carolina Law on Divorce Without Consent

There are two broad types of divorce proceedings in South Carolina. The first type is an uncontested divorce, which is when both spouses agree to the divorce and there are few if any disputes about how assets will be divided, who will get custody of the children, visitation time with the children, and so on.

The second type is a contested divorce. This occurs when one or both spouses disagree over the terms of the divorce. If your spouse refuses to agree to a divorce, or if they fight over the divorce’s exact terms, you’re dealing with a contested divorce.

Contested divorces can be deeply frustrating for everyone involved because it seems like there’s no way for the dispute to end. Fortunately, South Carolina has a legal procedure in place for situations like these. If you want to get a divorce without your spouse’s consent in South Carolina, in most cases, you will have to show that you meet one of the state’s four legally recognized grounds for an at-fault divorce. Those grounds are:

  • Your spouse committed adultery.
  • Your spouse is physically abusive to the extent that your life and safety are at risk.
  • Your spouse is regularly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Your spouse abandoned you for at least one year.

Unfortunately, mental abuse is not enough under South Carolina law to qualify for an at-fault divorce. If your situation does not fall under the four allowed reasons for an at-fault divorce, you may still be able to file a no-fault divorce. However, before you file for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse are required to live separately for at least one year.

Requirements When Planning Your Divorce in SC

When planning a divorce in South Carolina, the most important requirements are the residency requirements and, if you’re filing for a no-fault divorce, how much time you and your spouse have lived separately. In most divorce cases, you and your spouse must have been South Carolina residents for at least one year.

If you are not a South Carolina resident, your spouse must be a resident and have lived in the state for at least three months before you can file for an at-fault divorce. Couples filing for a no-fault divorce can initiate proceedings once they live separately for at least one year.

Once you meet the necessary residency and time requirements, there may be other conditions you need to meet to get a divorce without your spouse’s consent. If you’re filing for an at-fault divorce, you will need evidence to show you meet one of South Carolina’s four allowable grounds for fault.

To initiate the actual divorce process, you’ll submit a complaint to your local Family Court. This complaint will include your grounds for divorce, along with whatever evidence you have to support your claim and an outline of how you would like to divide your shared assets. The complaint will also include an overview of which spouse will retain custody of any minor children.

After submitting your divorce complaint to the local Family Court, a copy of the divorce papers will be served on your spouse. They will then have an opportunity to respond. If they disagree, a series of court hearings will commence. These hearings aim at resolving any disputes over how marital property will be divided, whether any spouse will pay alimony to the other, who will have custody of any minor children, and other issues.

In at-fault divorce cases, you can file for a final hearing 90 days after submitting your initial complaint. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a trial right away. If you’re in the middle of a contested divorce, a divorce lawyer can help defend your rights and give you the best chance at a fair resolution to your case.

What If There Is an Attempt at Reconciliation?

South Carolina does allow for an attempt at reconciliation if a spouse wants to try to fix their marriage. If this is the case, the Family Court judge will generally appoint a special mediator to help the spouses work through their issues.

In most instances, a judge will not bring a divorce case to a close while a mediator is still trying to get the spouses to resolve their differences. If the mediator’s efforts fail or other attempts at reconciliation don’t pan out, a judge can bring your divorce proceedings to an end at their discretion.

When Do You Need Legal Help When Divorcing in SC?

There’s a lot at stake when you file for divorce. The outcome of your case will determine when you can see your children, what assets you will retain from your marriage, and what level of financial support you will receive from or pay to your former spouse. If your divorce goes to court, you want a top divorce attorney on your side during the divorce hearings.

With so much on the line, you need to get help from a lawyer as early as possible. The South Carolina divorce attorneys at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC can help you gather evidence to build your case, take care of any paperwork related to your divorce proceedings, and represent your best interests in court. We understand South Carolina divorce laws, and we are ready to help you.

If you’re getting divorced in South Carolina, get a case review today by calling our Rock Hill office or filling out our contact form.

Ed Anderson is a Tennessee native who came to South Carolina to attend Furman University – and liked the state so much that he decided to stay here to pursue his legal career. After he earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Ed joined McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, in 2017, where he focuses on family law and personal injury law. In addition to his law practice, Ed is an active member of the South Carolina Bar’s Young Lawyers Division.