Legal Definitions


By providing these forms, neither South Carolina Legal Services nor any member of its staff is contracting in any way to provide you with legal advice or representation. If you do not understand how to complete these forms, you need to seek the advice of an attorney.
***Any legal action you take can permanently affect your legal rights***

  • Corroborating Witness
     A person who can verify for the the court that you are telling the truth about having been separated for more than one year. In order to get a divorce in South Caorlina, on any grounds, you must have a corroborating witness.
  • Default
     When the defendant fails to plead within the time allowed for that purpose, or fails to appear for the trial, he/she is in default.
  • Defendant
    The spouse of the person who starts this action.
  • Divorce A Vinculo Matrimonii
    A total divorce of husband and wife, dissolving the marriage tie.
  • Marital Property
    Includes personal property (this includes things such as cars, trailers, your personal belongings, retirement benefits, television sets and record collections) and real property (which includes land and houses) which have been acquired by you or your spouse during the marriage and which you still own at the time you file this action. The rules regarding property are very specific in South Carolina If you are uncertain about whether you or your spouse have any property which needs to be divided by the court, this pro se packet is not appropriate for you. Seek legal advice about your rights from an attorney.
  • Marriage
    In South Carolina there are two types of marriage: ceremonial and common law marriage. If you did not have a ceremonial marriage, these pro se forms are not appropriate for you to use to get a divorce.
    • Ceremonial Marriage: when you and your spouse got a marriage license and got married by a member of the Clergy, Justice of Peace or Notary Public
    • Common Law Marriage: when you and your spouse decided to consider yourselves married, without getting a marriage license or having a ceremony, and you held yourselves out as married to your family and friends and to people in the community.
  • Minor Children
    Any children conceived during the marriage, including the children you and your spouse had or adopted during the course of your marriage, or children you had who were legitimized when you got married, who are under the age of 18 years old when you start this action, and those expected.
  • Plaintiff
    The person who starts the court action for divorce by filing papers with the Court. The Plaintiff in this action will be the first witness.
  • Separation For More Than One Year
    Grounds for divorce in South Carolina. It means that you and your spouse must live in different homes and not had sex with each other for at least one year. Both conditions must be met. In other words, you cannot file for divorce on grounds of separation for more than one year if (1) you and your spouse live in the same home but are not having sex or (2) you and your spouse do not live in the same home but are having sex with each other.
  • Venue
    The county in which a court with jurisdiction may hear and determine a case. In South Carolina venue is determined by where the defendant lives, plaintiff lives if the defendant is out of the state, or where they last lived as husband and wife.
  • Witness
    A personwho can provide evidence to the Court based on personal knowledge of their case. Any witness should be at least eighteen (18) years of age; minors (in most cases) are not acceptable witnesses.

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