Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Our Family Lawyers at Dell Family Law, P.C.

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

People often wonder whether it matters who files for divorce first. Filing for divorce first has no real benefit in most cases according to attorneys, but occasionally can make a difference. Spouses who plan in advance and select a quality South Carolina Family Court lawyer first have had more time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the divorce process. Filing first also gives you more time to organize your finances and plan for covering the cost of your divorce.

What are the grounds for divorce in South Carolina?

South Carolina has five grounds for divorce that are set by S.C. Code Ann. Section 20-3-10, and they are:

  1. Adultery
  2. Desertion for a period of more than 1 year
  3. Physical cruelty
  4. Habitual drunkenness or drug use
  5. Continuous separation for a period of more than 1 year

Each of these has legal requirements that must be met before the South Carolina Family Court will grant a divorce, and you should talk to an experienced South Carolina attorney to determine which are most applicable for your situation.

Can my spouse and I go to mediation to settle our divorce?

Mediation is a meeting during which you and the opposing party have the assistance of a third-party mediator — typically an attorney — to talk through the issues in your case and try to settle your divorce. South Carolina Family Courts require parties to attend mediation before scheduling a contested trial.

The attorneys at Dell Family Law, P.C. are always willing to attend mediation, as it is very effective for settling cases. However, it is important to first enough information (such as about assets, debts, and income) before attending mediation or you will not be able to meaningfully negotiate.

What does a lawyer do that I can’t do?

Lawyers have been trained to research, think, and write in a specific way that is widely accepted in the legal profession. Divorce and child custody cases are handled differently in every state and sometimes even between counties in the same state. Lawyers experienced in South Carolina Family Court understand the specific procedures that will apply to your case and can help you develop a strategy that accomplishes your goals with minimal stress.

Further, a lawyer’s only job is to represent your interests. While you can put forth a great deal of effort to represent yourself, it would likely take you more time and cause you a lot of frustration. Divorce and other family court issues take a toll on people, and you don’t need the additional worry of whether you are doing things correctly. Hiring a lawyer can help ease this stress.

How much does it cost to get divorced?

One of the biggest fears people have is how much it will cost to get divorced, and how much it will cost to hire a lawyer.

The fee to file most actions, including divorce, in South Carolina Family Court is $150.

A South Carolina Family Court lawyer will set their fees based on the difficulty and complexity of the issues in your case. Most family court clients are charged hourly for the lawyer’s services; therefore, if your case is complex, a lawyer will likely have to spend more time on it, which will raise the cost for you.

Actions of third parties, including your spouse, his/her attorney, and the judge, also affect the amount of time a lawyer spends on a case. Therefore, while the lawyer can give you an estimate during the consultation, often, he or she can’t tell you the exact cost to get divorced.

At Dell Family Law, P.C., the minimum retainer to hire our attorneys is $3,500.00; however, some cases require much higher retainers, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Can the same lawyer represent both of us?

No. In South Carolina, lawyers are ethically prohibited from representing both parties in a divorce, even if all terms of the divorce are agreed upon.

If you and your spouse fit into this category, please contact our office about scheduling a consultation, during which we can discuss other alternatives.

How long does it take to get divorced?

How long it takes to get divorced depends on a number of factors. The grounds for divorce, whether you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, and how scheduling is handled in the county where your divorce is filed.

In South Carolina, divorces on most fault grounds cannot be granted until at least three months after the filing of the action. The available “no fault” ground requires separation for at least 1 year before a divorce can be granted, but you can resolve all other issues like property division, alimony, and child custody before the 1-year separation is over.

Even with contested issues, most cases can be resolved within 18 to 24 months.