South Carolina Divorce Laws

If you are considering filing for divorce in South Carolina, the first step is learning more about the state’s current divorce laws. Once you are comfortable with your knowledge of these, you can begin the process.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds?

South Carolina residents who are interested in divorce must first meet the state’s residency requirements. If only one member of the couple lives in the state, then South Carolina divorce laws requires them to live in the state for a full year before the divorce occurs. If both live in the state, then the individual filing, the plaintiff, must have met a three-month residency requirement.

Divorce is allowed on no-fault charge when the husband and life have lived apart without cohabitation for a full year. In cases where fault divorce is warranted, the following reasons are allowed:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for one year
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness, including drug use

If a member of the couple is in the military, then all military family laws must be followed. To ensure that this happens, South Carolina military couples often hire a military family law attorney before filling for divorce. This ensures that all military laws are followed.

Division of Property

South Carolina follows the equitable distribution model when dividing marital property. This tries to divide the property based on what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. When the couple cannot agree to the terms of division, the courts will step in, and they will look at the following factors:

  • Length of marriage
  • Age
  • Marital misconduct or fault
  • Current property value
  • Contribution made to the acquisition of the property
  • Each spouse’s income
  • Earning potential for each spouse
  • Health
  • Need of each spouse
  • Separate property of each spouse
  • Retirement benefits
  • Tax consequences
  • Expenses and debts of each party
  • Custody arrangement, if relevant
  • Other factors the court deems important

Child Custody

South Carolina’s courts will determine child custody based on what is in the child’s best interests. They will often consider the child’s reasonable preference, with consideration giving to the child’s age and maturity when they ask. Any instances of domestic violence will also be considered, as well as the religious faith of each parent and the child. The parents’ genders will not be a deciding factor in this decision.


Some South Carolina divorces will result in a spousal support award. This is determined on a case-by-case basis at the court’s discretion. The following factors will be considered when determining the support amount:

  • Length of the marriage and age of the parties
  • Physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • Educational background of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Current and anticipated earnings of each spouse
  • Employment histories and earning potentials
  • Custody of the children
  • Marital and non-marital properties of the parties
  • Custody of the children where it might make seeking employment difficult
  • Existence and extent of support obligation from a prior marriage for either party
  • Tax consequences
  • Any other factors the court deems important

Child support amounts are based on the Income Shares Model, which divides the support amount between the two parents in proportion to their incomes. This can be deviated from with the following factors taken into consideration:

  • Families with more than six children
  • Educational expenses
  • Equitable distribution of property
  • Extraordinary medical or dental expenses
  • Support obligation for other children
  • Significant income for the child or children
  • Disparity of income wherein the custodial parent has a significantly higher income than the non-custodial parent
  • Alimony payments
  • Any agreements between the two parties