In South Carolina, there are five grounds for divorce, four of which are fault-based, and one is no-fault. The fault grounds for divorce are: (1) Adultery; (2) Physical Cruelty; (3) Habitual Drunkenness and (4) Desertion. The no-fault ground for divorce is one year of continuous separation. These grounds and the pertinent defenses are discussed below.
Residency and Delay Requirements
In actions for divorce, the proper venue (the county in which the action must be brought) is: (1) The county in which the parties last resided together as husband and wife unless the Plaintiff is non-resident, in which case it must be brought in the county in which the Defendant resides; (2) The county in which the Defendant resides at the time of the commencement of the action; or (3) The county in which the Plaintiff resides and the Defendant is a non-resident or after due diligence cannot be found.
In order to have jurisdiction over the divorce issue, South Carolina requires that if both parties are South Carolina residents, that they have both been residents for more than three months. If only one party is a South Carolina resident, then one of the parties must have been a resident of South Carolina for more than one year.
South Carolina imposes delay requirements before the divorce evidence can be heard or the Decree entered. Evidence on the grounds for divorce cannot be taken before two months elapse after the filing of the Complaint nor can a Final Decree of Divorce be signed and filed before three months elapse after the filing of the Complaint. However, when a divorce is sought on the grounds of desertion or separation for one year, the hearing may be held and Decree issued after the responsive pleadings have been filed or after the Defendant had been adjudged in default, which ever occurs sooner.
No Decree of Divorce can be granted unless the Family Court Judge states in the Decree that he or she has attempted to reconcile the parties and that such efforts were unavailing.