How Do I Get a Divorce in South Carolina Without Waiting a Year?

Did you know that South Carolina had a divorce rate of 10.7% in 2023? Every state in the United States has its specific criteria for divorce, and South Carolina does not consider mental abuse or cruelty as grounds for divorce.

How Do I Get a Divorce in South Carolina Without Waiting a Year?

Getting a divorce in South Carolina typically requires a one-year separation period, but family law appellate attorney Stephane Quinn says divorce can be obtained without waiting for a year. This procedure, sometimes referred to as a "divorce from bed and board" or a "fault-based divorce," enables people to file for divorce based on particular offenses, such as adultery, physical abuse, frequent drunkenness, or abandonment.

Learn about the legal avenues available and take proactive steps so you can potentially fast-track your divorce proceedings.

Legal Grounds for Immediate Divorce

In South Carolina, there are different legal grounds for divorce, some of which allow for an immediate filing, while others require a period of separation. The legal grounds for immediate divorce in South Carolina include:

Adultery: If your spouse has committed adultery, you have the right to file for a divorce without waiting a year. Adultery is a grave violation of the commitment in a marriage and may provide grounds for pursuing a divorce promptly.

Physical cruelty: If your spouse has engaged in harmful behavior towards you, this can be grounds for divorce without the usual waiting period. Physical cruelty is a serious breach of the marriage vows and may warrant the prompt dissolution of the marriage.

Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse: If your spouse's substance abuse issues have impacted your marriage, you may be eligible to file for divorce without waiting for a year.

Filing for Divorce Based on Fault

In South Carolina, filing for divorce based on fault can hasten the process and avoid the one-year waiting period if fault grounds like adultery, physical cruelty, or substance abuse have affected your marriage.

To start a fault-based divorce, you will need to submit a complaint for divorce to the family court in the county where either you or your spouse live. When filing your complaint, it is important to provide a clear and detailed explanation of the issues that have caused the breakdown of your marriage. Presenting supporting evidence, such as witness statements, photographs, or other documentation, can bolster the strength of your case.

Once the complaint is filed, your spouse will be served with the documents, initiating the legal process. Work closely with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the complications of filing for divorce based on fault and help you handle the legal proceedings effectively.

Seeking an Expedited Hearing

Consider requesting an expedited hearing to accelerate the divorce process in South Carolina. An expedited hearing can help you move through the legal proceedings quicker than the standard timeline, which can be particularly beneficial if you're eager to finalize your divorce without the typical year-long waiting period.

To request an expedited hearing, you'll need to demonstrate to the court that there are urgent reasons why your case should be fast-tracked. Valid reasons could include issues like domestic abuse, financial hardships, or significant health concerns. Make sure to present clear and compelling arguments to the court to support your request for an expedited hearing.

Utilizing Mediation or Arbitration

Another effective approach is to explore utilizing mediation or arbitration to facilitate resolution outside of court.

Mediation involves a neutral third party helping you and your spouse reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This can be a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve disputes compared to lengthy court battles. Through mediation, you have more control over the outcome and can create solutions to fit your unique situation.

Arbitration is an alternative method where a neutral arbitrator serves as a private judge to make decisions regarding the issues in your divorce. This process is more formal than mediation but still provides a quicker resolution compared to traditional court proceedings. By opting for arbitration, you can bypass the usual delays and uncertainties associated with the court system.

Both mediation and arbitration provide opportunities for open communication, compromise, and reaching agreements efficiently.

Understanding the Uncontested Divorce Process

To understand the uncontested divorce process in South Carolina, here are the necessary steps for a smooth resolution: Ensure that you fulfill the residency requirements, which usually entail one spouse living in South Carolina for a minimum of three months before initiating the divorce process.

Submit and file a complaint for divorce with the family court in the county where you or your spouse reside. After filing the complaint, it is important to provide the other party with a copy of the necessary documents.

If both parties are in agreement, it is possible to collaborate and create a comprehensive written agreement that addresses property division, child custody, support, and other pertinent matters related to the divorce. Both parties are required to sign the agreement and then submit it to the court for approval.

If the court finds the agreement fair and meets all legal requirements, a judge will issue a final divorce decree. This uncontested process can save time and money compared to a contested divorce, offering a quicker resolution for both parties involved.


If you want to get a divorce in South Carolina without waiting a year, you can do so by citing legal grounds for immediate divorce. Each option has its requirements and procedures, so make sure to consult with a lawyer to determine the best course of action for your situation.

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