Learn how to get a divorce without a lawyer in free class

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South Carolina Legal Services will hold a free class in Sumter from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 21 to coach people through the divorce process without hiring a lawyer and with fewer expenses.

If contested, a divorce could easily cost thousands of dollars - $10,000 to $20,000, Melinda Taylor, staff attorney at S.C.Legal Services, said.

It costs $150 to file for a divorce but that fee can be waived if the individual meets low-income requirements, she said. There are other costs along the way, Taylor said, but they are not as expensive as a contested divorce.

This class is based on the state's one-year separation rule, she said.

If the two parties have not lived separately for at least one year, she said, they cannot file for divorce using the method that will be taught during the class.

To make the divorce process run smoothly, the two parties should already have an agreement on the custody of minor children and visitation and already have an agreement on the division of property.

The court system is set up to be much simpler if there are no property nor child matters to figure out, Taylor said.

During the two-hour class, an attorney will provide all the necessary forms to file for divorce and give instructions on how to get a spouse served. Participants will also learn about divorce hearing procedures, she said.

Courts have developed a more user-friendly system that people can navigate on their own if they learn the process, she said.

Reserve a seat by calling (803) 799-9668. Seating is limited.

Interested parties must call to register for the class and to find out the class location.

The class will also be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 11 in Clarendon County and 2 to 4 p.m. on April 18 in Lee County.