We Can Help You Understand Separation and South Carolina Divorce Laws.
Under the South Carolina divorce laws, there is no special legal status given to a couple that is separated. Separation means that they choose to live apart, but they are still legally married. However, there are a few aspects to separation that may be important to a couple that plans to divorce, and it is important to understand the effect separation may have on the rights of each spouse.
Because a couple is still married, if either spouse engages in an extra-marital sexual relationship, then he or she might be determined to have committed adultery during the parties’ separation. This is especially important for spouses who are seeking an award of spousal support or alimony, as under South Carolina divorce law, adultery prohibits a spouse from receiving such payments.
Separation Prior to No-fault Divorce
In South Carolina, a no-fault divorce will only be granted to a couple who have been separated and living apart for at least one year. If the couple separates for a shorter period and then moves back in together, the clock starts over on the one year requirement. This is important because absent the one-year separation, one of the spouses has to show grounds for divorce, such as marital misconduct by the other.
The policy behind this law may be to give couples a chance to work out their differences before taking the step of divorce and all that goes with the legal ending of marriage. In any case, it does prevent spontaneous divorces that may be regretted at a later date.
Separate Support Orders Prior to Divorce
Even if a couple has yet to divorce, one spouse may receive an order of separate support and maintenance from the court if requested. Essentially, this order is a formal recognition that the spouses are living apart, and may include financial requirements similar to alimony and division of property in a divorce action.
The complexities of separation, divorce and the related support agreements require the advice of an experienced divorce attorney who understands South Carolina divorce laws. Dell Family Law has the background to help you decide what is best for your future, and whether a separation is needed prior to filing for divorce. Please contact us so that we can discuss your case in detail and help you evaluate your choices.