A very common question I hear is, “How can I get a quick divorce in South Carolina?”
How long your divorce will take depends on several factors, some of which are beyond your control. There is a difference between a quick divorce and a simple divorce. It also depends on what you think is quick. Even though one type of divorce may take longer, it may be less stressful for everyone involved.
In this article you will learn:
- Why divorces can’t be instantaneous
- A few reasons why you might not want to rush your divorce
- Factors that affect how long your divorce will take
- The quickest type of divorce in SC.
Quick Divorces in South Carolina
There are several reasons why a divorce can’t be done overnight. To begin a case, the Summons and Complaint is filed. The length of the Complaint and the complexity of the issues contained therein may make drafting the Complaint take longer. Then, it will take time to get the other party served. The opposing party will then have thirty (30) days to file an Answer and Counterclaim. Once the Answer and Counterclaim is filed, the Plaintiff will have thirty (30) days to respond to the Counterclaim. As you can see, all of these things take time and prolong the process.
Should You Take Your Time?
There are several things that may make your divorce take longer than usual, but what is important is that it is done correctly. Your results are likely permanent, so while you may want to be divorced quickly, you want to make sure everything is carefully reviewed.
You also want to consider the relationship you will have with the other party moving forward, particularly if you have children together. Lots of people want to really put the other party through the wringer, but that may not always be the best move if you have to see the person and discuss children’s issues for the next ten years. This does not mean that you should not try to get what you are entitled to under the law, you just want to approach it the right way.
Factors Affecting How Long Your Divorce Will Take
There are two major considerations for getting a quick divorce. The first consideration is whether your divorce is going to be a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
The grounds for a fault-based divorce include adultery, physical cruelty, and habitual drunkenness. If you have fault-based grounds, you can request a final hearing ninety (90) days after filing.
The other type of divorce is a no-fault divorce. You can file this action after having lived separate and apart for one year. The only no-fault ground in South Carolina is living separate and apart for one year. This means you have to live in separate residences, without intervening marital relations or reconciliations, for at least one continuous year.
Contested Divorce Cases = More Time
The second consideration which may determine how long your divorce will take is whether you are having a contested or uncontested divorce. Even if you have a fault-based ground and legally may request a final hearing 90 (ninety) days after filing, it may take a considerable amount of time to hammer out the details of the divorce, i.e. custody, child support, alimony, property division, etc.
Guardians ad Litem
If children are involved, a Guardian ad Litem may be involved in your case. This will likely delay the process, as it may take months for the Guardian ad Litem to collect all the information she needs. The information requested may include school and medical records or information from the parties.
Discovery in Divorce Cases
In addition, there is often discovery done in divorce cases. Discovery is the exchange of information and documents between parties. When Discovery is requested by one party, the other party has thirty days to respond. Frequently, the opposing party is granted an extension on discovery, which also takes time. Simply put, just because you are filing based on a fault ground does not mean your divorce will only take 90 days.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement, they must attend mediation. Mediation is mandatory for all family court cases. Attending mediation may also prolong the process because everyone’s schedule has to be coordinated. Also, there are only so many mediators, and the mediator chosen by the parties or appointed by the court may have a waiting period to get in with the mediator.
Uncontested Divorce May Be Faster
The type of divorce is an uncontested divorce which means that two spouses agree to the important provisions of a divorce, i.e. child custody, child support and visitation, property division, alimony, etc. When two people agree, this causes lots of the delays previously discussed to go away, and thus, shortens the longevity of your case. The less time people spend arguing, and the more cooperative people are, the less time a divorce case usually takes.
Other Considerations That Affect Time
That being said, there are many other things that can affect how long it will take to get your divorce. The Court docket is a major consideration. In some counties, your divorce case will be added to the docket within a few weeks of filing a Request for Final Hearing. It may take longer in other counties.
Your attorney’s caseload may also affect how long your divorce takes. I try to take a limited number of cases, so I can give each of my clients the best possible experience. That being said, there are certain situations that may cause delay, for example if the opposing party’s attorney is unavailable for some reason or if either attorney has a trial coming up.
Need help with your South Carolina divorce case?
All of these things can affect how long your divorce takes. The important thing is to make sure your case is properly reviewed and handled.
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