A Guide to Divorce in South Carolina

avatarby Addison Dowling FenderLast updated May 29, 2024Category: Divorce,Divorce Process,Family Law

Fender Law, a premier Family Law firm based in Beaufort, excels in offering specialized legal support for divorce proceedings. If you find yourself in a predicament where your spouse is purposefully prolonging the divorce process, our skilled team at Fender Law is well-equipped to steer you through the intricacies, ensuring a smooth journey towards a resolution.

What Happens During a Divorce Proceeding in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, as in many other states, the divorce process encompasses several critical steps and factors. Below is a refined overview of the typical proceedings in a South Carolina divorce:

  1. Filing the Complaint: The divorce process usually begins with one spouse (the plaintiff) filing a complaint for divorce with the family court in the county where either spouse resides. The complaint outlines the grounds for divorce, which can include no-fault grounds like living separate and apart without cohabitation for a certain period of time, or fault grounds such as adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, or desertion.
  2. Serving the Complaint: After filing, the plaintiff must serve the complaint and summons to the other spouse (the defendant). This can be done by a process server or through certified mail with return receipt requested.
  3. Response: The defendant has a certain period of time to respond to the complaint, either by filing an answer admitting or denying the allegations, or by filing a counterclaim with their own requests or defenses.
  4. Temporary Orders: In some cases, either spouse may request temporary orders for child custody, child support, alimony, or use of property during the divorce process. These orders remain in effect until the final divorce decree is issued.
  5. Discovery: Both parties exchange information and documents relevant to the divorce through a process known as discovery. This may include financial documents, property deeds, tax returns, and other evidence.
  6. Settlement Negotiations: Parties may attempt to reach an agreement on issues such as property division, child custody, visitation, and support through negotiation or mediation. 
  7. Trial: If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case may proceed to trial. During the trial, both parties present evidence and arguments, and the judge makes decisions on contested issues based on the evidence presented and applicable law.
  8. Final Decree: Once all issues are resolved, either through settlement or trial, the court issues a final decree of divorce. This document officially terminates the marriage and outlines the terms of the divorce, including custody, support, and property division.
  9. Post-Divorce Matters: After the divorce is finalized, parties may need to address post-divorce matters such as compliance with court orders, modification of custody or support orders, or enforcement of the divorce decree.

Reasons Your Spouse May Attempt Delaying Divorce

Understanding the motivations behind postponing a divorce can help in resolving conflicts:

  1. Mental and Emotional Impact: Often, delays arise from an emotional strategy aimed at inflicting distress upon the other spouse.
  2. Public Perception Management: Some individuals postpone their divorce to shape how the public views the situation or to shift blame away from their own actions.
  3. Resistance to Change: The fear of facing new life challenges, such as relocating or adapting to altered financial realities, can cause individuals to stall the process.
  4. Decision-making Paralysis: The inability to make definitive choices can significantly extend the duration of the proceedings.

The Consequences of Postponing Divorce

Deliberate postponement of divorce proceedings can lead to several adverse outcomes:

  1. Mental Health Deterioration: Extended divorce processes can intensify existing mental health conditions.
  2. Economic Difficulties: The financial burden of divorce tends to escalate with time.
  3. Relationship Tensions: Procrastinating on divorce can worsen relationships with the former spouse and others.
  4. Obstructed Emotional Recovery: The absence of closure hampers both individuals' ability to move on.

Additional Legal Actions for Continuing the Divorce

Legal measures, including sanctions or setting a trial date, can motivate progress in the divorce process.

Fender Law Offers Consultations for Divorce Cases

At Fender Law, we understand the challenges of divorce proceedings and are committed to providing effective legal representation. If your spouse is intentionally delaying the process, our team is here to assist you in achieving a resolution. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Addison Addison

Addison Dowling Fender

At the Fender Law Firm, my wife Tracy and I are keeping alive the Fender/Dowling tradition of providing honest and effective legal services to our clients.

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