Common Myth about Legal Separation in South Carolina
Written by: Megan Dell
In some states, you can go to court and be given a legal separation, but there is no such thing as legal separation in South Carolina. In this state, you are either “married” or “divorced,” but there is no marital status that is in between.
The confusion is often because a couple can be separated (and you must be to get a no-fault divorce). In a nutshell, there is a difference between your living situation and your marital status: you can live separate from your spouse, but you are still legally married.
This distinction can confuse people when they are living separate from each other and want to begin dating other people.
For example, if Jane and John decide they want to divorce so John moves out. Now, Jane and John are separated (in that they are living separate from each other), but they are still married. After six months of living separate, Jane meets Bob and wants to start dating him. Why is that a problem? Because Jane is still married to John, even though they aren’t living together anymore.
If Jane begins dating Bob before she and John have formally signed a property settlement agreement, or before the Court has issued a final order for separate support and maintenance or approved a marital settlement agreement, Jane will have committed adultery, which would prohibit her from receiving alimony.
Many clients do not understand that moving out does not change their marital status, and think they are “legally separated” and, therefore, can date like they did when they were single. This is simply not true, as there is no such thing as legal separation in South Carolina.
If you have any questions about legally separating or getting divorced, schedule a consultation with our South Carolina family lawyer today.