Is a Divorce in Greenville, South Carolina different from one in Greenwood, South Carolina?
John DeVore Compton, III
There’s an old saying: “A good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the Judge.” Another old saw talks about, when a lawyer gets a good result for his client in his home county it is because of “home cooking.” Judges and lawyers get to know each other over time, and litigants are leery of bias for a hometown lawyer. Historically, too, lawyers in some counties just had a reputation for being overly litigious, which made working on divorces more costly, upsetting and difficult for all concerned.
“Mediation” in Divorce cases was always encouraged. Lawyers would get their clients together and try to “hammer out” agreements, or use a third party to help overcome resistance on a certain point of disagreement.
My experience is that parties who agree come out ahead (in general) than if they let a judge decide their case.
In 2006, among other counties, the South Carolina Supreme Court required Greenville to mediate divorce cases before a final hearing could be scheduled, unless the parties reached a voluntary agreement. But in Greenwood, cases were decided the old fashioned way and it depended on the skill of the lawyers (in large part) whether a case could be worked out, or unreasonably fought.
So, with the 2006 rules, in Greenville, if parties (or lawyers) were being unreasonable, there was a pathway to agreement: a safety valve (so to speak), that gave parties a better chance at a better result through mediation. So Greenville divorce cases were different.
Now, as of January 1, 2016, Greenwood is a mandatory mediation county too. This doesn’t mean you must mediate (parties can always work with their lawyers toward agreement first). But if a divorce case hits a logjam, Greenwood cases must go through mediation, before a final hearing can be set.
This is but a brief comment and there are a lot of other factors that can affect the outcome of a divorce. Now, however, for mediation requirements, Greenwood and Greenville divorces go through the same process. That’s a good thing.