Where do I file for Divorce in SC?
If you want to file for divorce in South Carolina, one of the first questions you ask yourself is which courthouse should you file? Most of the time, this is very easy. If both you and your spouse live in Columbia, SC, then you should file in Columbia. But from our experience, couples don’t always file for divorce right away. One spouse may move to a different part of South Carolina. Or, the spouse may have left the state, or even the country!
The Maron Law Group accepts cases in every South Carolina county. Regardless of which county you have to file in, we have you covered.
This article will help you understand out where to file for divorce in South Carolina.
Why does it matter where I file for divorce?
Where you file for divorce is an important, strategic decision. The county where you file for divorce doesn’t change the law. Divorce laws are the same across the entire state. Charleston County and Richland County calculate child support and alimony the same way.
But knowing how different judges tend to rule has a big impact on your case. Judges in each county have a rotating docket. This means the judge for a Rule to Show Cause may not be the same judge you had for a Temporary Hearing.
Having a skilled attorney who knows what judges like in certain counties may help stack the case in your favor. This is especially important in South Carolina. In recent years Charleston, SC and Columbia, SC have grown so much that cities blend into each other. The counties blend in to each other, too. One side of the street may be in Dorchester County, and the other side in Berkeley County. Or the county lines may even change!
If you live in the tri-county area, you may be able to file in Berkeley, Dorchester, or Charleston counties. Filing in certain counties may have a strategic advantage. But this depends on the facts of your case.
Another short term effect is how long it takes for a case to get through the system. The dockets in some counties have a longer wait than others. For example, some counties it may take two months to get a hearing whereas in other counties it may take one month.
Where do I file for divorce in SC if we live in the state?
If both spouses live in South Carolina, the next question to ask is, “Do we both live in the same county?” If both of you live in the same county, then you should file for divorce in that county.
But if you and your spouse live in different counties, then you have three options:
- Option 1: File in the county where your spouse lives
- Option 2: File in the county where you live, or
- Option 3: File in the county where the two of you last lived together.
Here’s an example: Wife wants to file for divorce. Husband and Wife lived together in Goose Creek, SC. After they separated, Husband moved to Charleston, SC. Wife moved to Beaufort, SC.
In this case, you can file for divorce in Berkeley, Charleston, or Beaufort Counties. What county you file in may be a tactical decision by your attorney. We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
Where do I file for divorce in SC if only one spouse lives there?
In this situation, you can file for divorce where the spouse lives. The person filing for divorce needs to file in a place where the court can exercise its power over the defendant. This means you want to file for divorce where a judge can legal divide your property and grant your divorce.
For example, Wife and husband lived together in Georgetown, SC. After they separated, Wife left to live with her family in Augusta, GA—right across the state line from North Augusta, SC.
Wife should file for divorce at the Georgetown County Courthouse in Georgetown, SC. It’s a long drive for her to get to Georgetown, but she doesn’t have a choice. She can’t file in Aiken County or Edgefield County, even though she lives a stone’s throw away from South Carolina.
What if my spouse doesn’t live in South Carolina?
Here, you can file in the county that you live, but this may present some challenges. In order to file for divorce in South Carolina, you have to be a legal resident of the state. Unlike some other states, you can’t move to South Carolina after separating and get divorced right away.
There are two ways you can establish residency in South Carolina:
- If both spouses live in South Carolina, you both must live in the state for 3 months, OR
- If one spouse lives outside of South Carolina, you must wait 1 year to file. This applies only if the spouse in South Carolina isn’t already a resident.
Where you file for divorce is a strategic decision. The attorneys at the Maron Law Group can help you plan for your divorce, and make sure you are filing in the county that benefits you the most. The Maron Law Group accepts cases throughout all 46 South Carolina counties. Contact us today for a free consultation!