Do You Have to Go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?

Do You Have to Go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina?

Going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult and emotional time. When you and your spouse have come to the mutual decision to end your marriage, all you likely want is to make it official in the easiest, most amicable way possible.

You don’t want the added stress and complication of legal squabbles over assets or child custody agreements.

This desire for an expedited, less contentious process often leads clients to ask us – do we really need to go to court if we agree on everything in the divorce? It’s a fair question, and like most legal matters, the answer depends on several factors.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

First, let’s clarify precisely what qualifies a divorce as “uncontested.” As experienced South Carolina family law attorneys, we define an uncontested divorce as one where you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on all aspects and key issues involved in dissolving your marriage. This includes but is not limited to:

  • How you will divide marital property, assets, and debts
  • Child custody arrangements and visitation schedules
  • Amount and duration of spousal and child support
  • Who will cover health insurance for children
  • Retirement funds and pension disbursements

You don’t have to work out all the nitty-gritty details on your own, that’s what we’re here for! But you do need to be in complete agreement when filing for divorce in South Carolina. Contested divorces, where former spouses battle it out over disagreements on one or more of those issues, can turn ugly fast. It often means lengthy court hearings, expensive litigation costs, and increased animosity.

Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce

Divorce isn’t just a legal process; it’s a profoundly emotional journey. In uncontested divorces, where both parties are in agreement, there’s often a significant reduction in emotional stress. Here’s why:

Minimized Conflict and Animosity

With contested divorces, disagreements can escalate into full-blown battles, heightening animosity between spouses. In uncontested cases, the mutual agreement on key issues minimizes conflict, creating a more amicable atmosphere.

Faster Closure, Quicker Healing

The streamlined nature of uncontested divorces means a quicker resolution. This not only saves time and resources but also allows individuals to begin the emotional healing process sooner, avoiding prolonged emotional distress.

Cooperative Parenting

For couples with children, an uncontested divorce sets a positive tone for co-parenting. When parents can agree on custody arrangements and support, it fosters a cooperative environment, providing stability for the children during this challenging time.

Minimizing Attorney Fees

In contested divorces, prolonged courtroom battles can quickly accumulate substantial legal fees. Uncontested divorces, characterized by mutual agreement, generally require less attorney involvement. This can significantly reduce legal expenses, allowing individuals to allocate resources more efficiently.

Court Cost Efficiency

Traditional divorces often involve multiple court hearings, each incurring additional costs. With uncontested divorces, the streamlined process typically results in fewer court appearances, minimizing associated fees. This financial efficiency is particularly appealing for those seeking a cost-effective dissolution of their marriage.

Asset Preservation

The equitable distribution of assets in uncontested divorces is often smoother and more cost-effective. Spouses can work together to reach fair agreements, preserving assets that might otherwise be depleted in legal battles. This collaborative approach not only benefits both parties financially but also facilitates a more efficient division of marital property.

When a Court Appearance Becomes Necessary

So, back to the central question – with an uncontested, amenable divorce, do you still need to go before a judge? In most cases in South Carolina, yes. The state requires that you have one relatively quick hearing before finalizing a divorce. Some key details on what that entails:

  • The hearing usually lasts less than 15 minutes
  • The judge reviews paperwork, asks clarifying procedural questions
  • Main purpose is to issue a verbal divorce decree on record

We always accompany clients to the hearing to provide legal guidance. With an uncontested divorce where both parties communicate constructively with us and the court from start to finish, these hearings proceed smoothly without contention. Judges appreciate when couples make an effort to end marriage responsibly through a marital agreement.

How to Avoid Going to Court for an Uncontested Divorce

While South Carolina state law mandates at least one final court hearing prior to approval of your divorce decree, a few options exist to minimize court involvement:

Complete Paperwork

Rather than having clients make multiple trips to the courthouse and schedule hearings, we handle filing all necessary divorce documentation with the courts on your behalf. This simplifies logistics by reducing courthouse trips and paperwork burdens.

Mediate Remaining Details

If you and your soon-to-be ex are struggling to see eye-to-eye on specific elements of asset division or custody arrangements, consider hiring a mediator. An experienced divorce mediator saves on potential court fees down the road by facilitating productive compromise outside courtroom walls.

Construct Settlement Agreement

Through collaborative dialogue with our guidance, you can create a legally binding separation settlement agreement stipulating the terms of your divorce without needing a judge to mandate decisions. As your legal counsel, we ensure agreements align with state laws.

Streamlining Your Uncontested Divorce Proceedings

Navigating the often murky waters of divorce proceedings is tricky without the necessary legal experience. As a South Carolina family law firm handling uncontested divorces, these are the steps we take to progress clients’ cases in a timely, conflict-free manner:

  • Initiate the process by filing a Petition for Divorce and serving your spouse
  • Submit documentation electronically to minimize courthouse trips
  • Review all shared assets and use equitable distribution laws to divide
  • Calculate child support arrangements per South Carolina’s guidelines
  • Draft divorce decree and separation agreement for court submission
  • Provide legal counsel at any required court hearings until ruling

The bottom line? With an amicable divorce, you can likely avoid excessive attorney fees and court litigation. But sidestepping the courtroom completely is usually unrealistic if you want the legal dissolution of your marital status. Lean on a trusted divorce lawyer to navigate procedures properly and efficiently.

Your Journey Towards a Fresh Start

As you navigate the complexities of divorce, we understand that emotions play a significant role. Our team at Okoye Law is not only dedicated to ensuring a smooth legal process but also to supporting you emotionally through this challenging time. With our guidance, you can achieve closure and embark on a new chapter with confidence.
If you and your spouse are seeking an uncontested, expedited divorce, contact us today for a consultation.

Our compassionate legal team at will review your situation, answer questions, and start mapping out the smartest path forward. Let’s have a productive conversation about reasonable next steps toward closure and a fresh start.

Author Bio

rock hill criminal defense family and personal injury lawyers

Colin Okoye is the CEO and Managing Partner of Okoye Law, a Rock Hill, SC,  criminal defense, personal injury, and family law firm. With years of experience, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including DUI charges, divorce cases, and car accidents.

Colin received his Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law and is a South Carolina Bar Association member. His previous experience working as an Assistant Public Defender in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit has equipped him with the necessary skills and knowledge to represent clients in a wide range of cases effectively.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google