After you've served your spouse, count ahead 35 days on the calendar (do not count the day your spouse was served) and mark the date. On that day, if you have not received a formal response or “Answer” to the divorce papers from your spouse, or if you received an Answer that agrees with everything in your complaint, you may proceed with the final divorce. If your spouse's Answer disputes or contests any part of your request, you'll need to hire a lawyer to proceed with your case.
If you are proceeding without opposition from your spouse, then the next step is to complete a Request for Hearing and an Affidavit of Default for Divorce. When you file these forms, you must also file a copy of your return receipt or other affidavit showing that your spouse was properly served (unless you've already filed it).
Request for Hearing SCCA400.08
After completing these filings, the Clerk of Court will mail you a Notice of Hearing with your court date. After you receive this Notice of Hearing, you must mail a copy to your spouse, by certified mail, return receipt requested. After your spouse mails back the signed green card, you must complete an Affidavit of Service by Mailing in front of a Notary Public. If the envelope and card are returned unsigned, take the returned envelope to your divorce hearing.
Affidavit of Service by Mailing (Notice of Hearing) SCCA400.09
To prepare for the hearing, you must complete a Final Order of Divorce and a Report of Divorce or Annulment. You must also have one person testify at the hearing who has personal knowledge that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for one year. On the day of your hearing, bring the above documents to court, along with your witness.
Final Order of Divorce SCCA400.10
Report of Divorce or Annulment DHEC0682
During the hearing the judge will ask questions about your documents, including questions about your marriage and separation. You may use a sample script to prepare yourself. After granting your divorce, the judge will sign the Final Order of Divorce - your divorce is not final until the order is signed and filed with the Clerk of Court. The judge may also ask you to complete a Judgment in a Family Court Case.
Sample Script for Plaintiff's Testimony
Sample Script for Questioning Witness