Many people turn to the Internet for information about legal separation in SC when they are thinking about divorcing their spouse. In many states, legal separation is the first step towards divorce. This is not the process in South Carolina, though.
Legal Separation in South Carolina
South Carolina doesn’t recognize the term “legal separation”. Orders of Separation Maintenance and Support is what the courts issue when a couple wants to start the divorce process.
Order of Separate Maintenance and Support
The Order of Separate Maintenance and Support is a temporary order. While it can lead to divorce, it doesn’t decide anything for divorce or end a couple’s marriage.
Couples do not need to have an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support to separate. They can simply live separately without involving the court. The only reason a couple should seek the Orders of Separation Maintenance and Support is to protect their finances and custody issues.
This order includes details about:
- Child Custody
- Support Arrangements
- Maintaining Marital Assets
- Paying Marital Debts
In addition to the above, the order will identify who will stay in the marital home and pay the mortgage and other household expenses. The order will also name the person who will be responsible for transferring titles of personal property.
The Process of Filing for a Order of Separate Maintenance and Support
- A spouse or his/her attorney files a Summons and Complaint for the Order of Separate Maintenance and Support and Notice and Motion for Temporary Relief.
- The Summons, Complaint and Notice and Motion for Temporary Relief is served to the other spouse – or served to the other’s spouse’s attorney.
- The served spouse or attorney has thirty days to file an Answer (what the spouse would like the judge to do in the situation).
- A SC Judge hears the case, reviews the issues, and then decides on the agreement between the couple.
- The stipulations of the order are in effect until a Final Agreement has been reached, or until trial.
Separation Before a No-Fault Divorce
The only way to obtain a no-fault divorce is for a couple to live separately for one year. The couple must live in two different places – not in two different rooms of the same house.
Either spouse can file for Orders of Separate Maintenance and Support in a no-fault situation. Otherwise, one spouse can provide fault grounds to obtain the order.
Why You Need a Divorce Attorney for Separation in SC
The Order of Separate Maintenance and Support includes a lot of important details you need to understand fully before moving forward with filing. Making a mistake with the order can lead to regrets later on and it could be difficult to reverse the decision. Having a SC divorce attorney who knows how to protect your rights is a smart choice during this time in your life.
Contact Harden Law to speak to an experienced divorce attorney who is highly skilled at filing an Order for Separate Maintenance and Support in SC. It will make the process much easier to understand and deal with, so you can move forward with strength and confidence.