South Carolina offers an option to divorcing couples to obtain a “simple divorce,” also referred to as an expedited divorce. A simple divorce is effectively a do-it-yourself divorce, meaning you will undergo the divorce without the help of an attorney. A simple divorce is well suited for couples that know their relationship is over and just want to get out of it with as little fighting and stress as possible. This form of divorce is often an affordable option, but who may be eligible to use it is strictly limited.
Simple Divorce Eligibility
In order to be eligible to file for a simple divorce in South Carolina, certain requirements must be met. If any of the following are not satisfied, then you are ineligible for this type of divorce.
- Residency requirement. In order to obtain a simple divorce, you must establish your residency eligibility. To do this, either you or your spouse must have resided (i.e., lived) in South Carolina for more than one year before the divorce is filed, or both you and your spouse live in South Carolina and have lived here for a minimum of three months prior to filing for divorce.
- Grounds for divorce is living apart. The grounds for your simple divorce must be that you and your spouse have continuously lived apart for a period of one year prior to filing for your divorce.
- No marital assets or debts exist, or an agreement has been reached. You and your spouse cannot have any marital assets or marital debts to argue over during the divorce in order to be eligible for a simple divorce. Alternatively, if you and your spouse do have marital assets or debts, but have arrived at an agreement as to how to divide them, you satisfy this criterion of simple divorce eligibility.
- No children exist, or an agreement has been reached. In order for a couple to be eligible for a simple divorce, there can be no arguing over child custody or child support issues. This is an easy criterion to satisfy if you and your spouse do not have children, and are not expecting any. Alternatively, if you and your spouse do have children together, and have arrived at an agreement concerning custody and support, you may proceed with a simple divorce.
Filing Your Own Paperwork
Simple divorces are intended to be easy to understand and easy to do. Since you will not have a divorce attorney working for you, you will be responsible for preparing and filing your own divorce documents.
- Completing divorce paperwork. The documents you will need to complete include a Family Court Cover Sheet, a Certificate of Exemption, a Summons for Divorce, a Complaint for Divorce, and a Financial Declaration (which must be signed in the presence of a Notary Public). Once completed, these documents must be filed.
- Filing Divorce Paperwork. Completed divorce papers must be filed with the Clerk or Court of the Family Court Division in either the county where you live at the time of filing, the county where your spouse lives at the time of filing, or the county where you and your spouse last shared a residence.
- Serving Divorce Papers. After filing, you are required to serve a copy of the divorce documents to your spouse. Service can be accomplished by personally giving the documents to your spouse and having them sign an Acceptance of Service form which you will return to the Clerk of Court, hiring a private process server to deliver the documents to your spouse, having the Sheriff's Office make service of the documents onto your spouse, or by mailing the documents via U.S. mail by certified mail, restricted delivery or return receipt requested. If you elect to mail the papers, you must wait until you receive back the green card signed by your spouse indicating receipt; then you must complete an affidavit of mailing, which must be signed in front of a Notary Public, and submitted to the Clerk of Court.
Simple divorce is only available in limited circumstances. If you have any questions, or have discovered that you are not eligible for a South Carolina simple divorce, you should contact the divorce lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC. Please call us today at 843-323-4341.