Reviewed: Can You Guarantee me a Fast Divorce in South Carolina?

Occasionally I am asked by someone to guarantee that I can get their divorce done by a certain date.  This happens for a variety of reasons (sometimes because there is another wedding planned) but the bottom line is that they want the divorce to be finished fast!  So how long does it take to get a divorce?  Are there loop holes that some attorneys know to get the divorces over faster?

The truth is, a lawyer simply cannot guarantee with a whole lot of certainty when a case will be done.  Based on how long I’ve been practicing and how many cases I have handled I can make a pretty good guess at when a final hearing might take place in a fairly simple case (like a South Carolina uncontested divorce case where there are no issues).  However, in a case where there are substantial issues like custody or property division the things that effect the length of time a case could take begin to multiply and compound.

So, can I guarantee when a case will be over?  No.  The only guarantee I can make is that we will work as hard as I can for you.  While I understand that any type of legal matter is stressful and is usually better when it is over, it may not be to your best interest to buzz through the case just so it is over.

But, just so you don’t feel like I totally wimped out on this answer, here is a general timeline for an uncontested divorce case in South Carolina (and more specifically Greenville County).  First, the complaint must be filed with the Family Court.  After the complaint has been filed, it must be served on your spouse.  In some cases, the couple is working together to resolve their case and service is quite simple and fast.  But there are other cases where the spouse is avoiding service of the complaint and it takes much longer to get them served.  Once your spouse is served, he/she will have 30 days to file an answer or respond to our complaint.  If they are in agreement (like they are many times in an uncontested divorce) they sign an Answer that agrees with what we asked for in a complaint and we are able to move on to the next step.  Sometimes, however, they do not sign the answer or they just forget about things.  When this happens, we have to wait for the entire 30 days to pass before we can move forward.  The other thing that might happen is for your spouse to hire an attorney which may transform your case from an uncontested case to a contested matter with issues.  The next step (if the case is uncontested) is to request a hearing.  The hearing can be requested either after the 30 days has passed or after your spouse has signed the Answer agreeing to the relief you requested.  Then we wait on the Court to set our hearing.  The time it takes for the Court to set your final hearing varies from county to county.  Greenville County is fairly quick with uncontested final hearings being set about 7 weeks from the date of request.  Other counties that are smaller and have fewer family court judges take longer to get a case set.  Some counties take four months or longer.

I hope that helps show you some of the complexities and variables that play into determining how long it is going to take to finish your case up.  So, next time if you ask your divorce lawyer how long, don’t be surprised when he says, “it depends.”

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