Questions about divorce in South Carolina?

Whether you are considering separation, or you have been served with divorce papers, you probably have a lot of questions and you may be feeling overwhelmed. Your first step is to consult with an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney who can answer your questions and help you to decide what your next steps should be. 

In the meantime, we have compiled answers to some of the most common questions about divorce that we hear from our clients, including:

  • How long the process takes,
  • What adultery is,
  • Whether you can get alimony in South Carolina, and
  • How marital property is divided in a South Carolina divorce.

Common Questions & Answers on Divorce

1. How long does it take to get a divorce in South Carolina?

There is no simple answer to how long it takes to get a divorce. The answer is… it depends.

Is it a no-fault divorce based on one-year separation? At a minimum, it will take one year from the date you and your spouse separated before your divorce can be finalized. Remember, once you file for divorce, it can take months for a final hearing to be scheduled and for your divorce to be final. 

Is it a “simple” divorce with no contested issues, or will the court need to decide matters like child custody, child support, alimony, and division of marital property? 

Fault-based divorces can be decided sooner than one year after your separation but contested issues may delay the date of your final hearing as both sides engage in the discovery process, litigate disputes, and participate in court-ordered mediation.

2. How long do you have to be separated before divorce in South Carolina?

If you are seeking a divorce based on one-year’s continuous separation, you must be separated for at least a year before your divorce can be finalized. During that year, you cannot reconcile, or the clock will start over.

3. How much does a divorce cost in South Carolina?

There is no set price for a divorce in South Carolina. The cost of your divorce will depend on the experience of the attorney that you retain and the complexity of the issues involved in your divorce case. 

For example, if you have no children, you have no assets, you are not seeking alimony, and you intend to divorce based on one-year’s separation with the consent of your spouse, the total cost of your divorce will be significantly less than it would be if you and your spouse must work out the division of a family business and substantial assets, if there are children and custody is disputed, or if you are seeking a divorce based on fault grounds like adultery.

4. What is the fastest way to get a divorce in South Carolina?

Like every other question in the law, it depends.

The fastest way to get a divorce in South Carolina is to file for divorce based on fault grounds (adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, or abandonment) in a situation where your spouse consents, does not contest the grounds for divorce, and there are no other contested issues. 

If your spouse does contest the grounds for divorce, however, the divorce process will take longer because you need to complete the discovery process, litigate any pre-trial legal issues, and attend a court-ordered mediation before a final hearing/trial takes place. 

In some cases, the fastest way to a final divorce may be to seek a divorce based on one-year separation and to reach an agreement on all issues before your final divorce hearing.

5. How do you prove adultery in South Carolina?

Although pictures or video of your spouse engaging in the act would be ideal, that rarely happens. Your investigator or other witnesses only need to establish that your spouse had 1) the inclination and 2) the opportunity to commit adultery. 

For example, if your spouse was holding hands with someone else or kissed them in public, and then disappeared into a hotel room with them for an extended period of time, that would be sufficient evidence to prove adultery.

6. Can you date while separated in South Carolina?

No one is going to tell you that you absolutely can’t date while separated, but it could affect your divorce.

Dating = adultery and possibly “marital misconduct” that can affect your case in many ways. 

For example, if you commit marital misconduct before 1) you have signed a written settlement agreement or 2) the Family Court has entered a permanent order for separate support and maintenance or a permanent order approving your agreement, you may be barred from receiving alimony and the court can take your “marital misconduct” into consideration when dividing marital assets. 

Even after a settlement agreement has been signed, dating will likely affect child custody in situations where the court considers it “marital misconduct” or when your new love interest negatively impacts the child.

7. Can you be denied a divorce?

If you ask for a divorce on fault grounds only, and you do not prove the fault grounds, the court will deny your divorce. 

If you ask for a divorce based on one-year’s continuous separation, and the court finds that you have not been living separate and apart for the full year, the court will deny your divorce.

8. Does it matter who files for divorce first in South Carolina?

It matters only from a psychological perspective – if you file first, you have the first opportunity to tell the story of your case and to provide a framework through which the court will see the facts of your case. 

Apart from that, you can include all of your claims in your Answer and Counterclaims, and you do not lose any rights by not filing first.

9. Who gets the house in a divorce in South Carolina?

There is no set rule as to who keeps the marital home in a divorce, but, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will:

  • Identify what property is part of the “marital estate” (the marital home will usually be considered part of the marital estate),
  • Value both marital and non-marital property, and
  • Divide the property equitably, taking into consideration the statutory factors for division of marital property.

For example, if one spouse has custody of the children and needs the marital home to continue to provide for them, the court will take this into consideration when dividing the marital property.

10. How do I divorce my spouse and keep everything?

This is not likely to happen, but the court will follow the rules identified above when dividing the marital assets. 

One factor that the court must consider is marital misconduct – for example, if you prove adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, or abandonment as a ground for divorce, you are more likely to keep a greater portion of the marital estate.

11. Can I divorce my spouse without them knowing?

It’s not likely. 

You must serve the divorce papers on your spouse and give them sufficient notice and opportunity to reply. Unless your spouse has disappeared and it is impossible to locate them, any divorce that is granted could be undone if your spouse did not receive proper notice.

12. Can you get a divorce if your spouse won’t sign?


Your spouse doesn’t have to sign anything for you to get a divorce on fault grounds or after a one-year separation, but they must have notice and an opportunity to respond to your divorce action.

13. How do I get a divorce in South Carolina without waiting a year?

If you can prove a fault-ground for divorce like adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, or abandonment, you do not need to wait for the one-year continuous separation.

14. Is South Carolina an alimony state?

You can receive alimony when appropriate in South Carolina in an Order for Separate Support and Maintenance or in your final divorce decree.

15. Is sexting considered adultery in South Carolina?

“Sexting” is not adultery, but it can be evidence of adultery – you need only prove 1) inclination (sexting would certainly imply inclination) and 2) opportunity. 

Sexting alone, however, without further evidence of adultery, could still be considered “marital misconduct” that may affect child custody, alimony, or division of assets.

Questions About Divorce in South Carolina?

If you are considering separation or divorce, call an experienced South Carolina divorce attorney now who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.  

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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