GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

In South Carolina there are five grounds for divorce: separation of the spouses for at least one year (the “no-fault divorce”), adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness (alcohol or narcotic drugs) and desertion. The proof needed to allow the court to grant a divorce on one of these five reasons depends on your circumstances. Your lawyer will ask you about your situation and advise you about your case. Testimony from a third party will probably be required.

State law requires that a family court judge make a specific finding that reconciliation is not possible before the judge can grant a divorce.

FAMILY COURTS

In South Carolina, family courts handle all marital litigation. The family courts decide whether to grant a divorce, issues of custody and support (child support and alimony) and equitable division of marital property.

Family courts can grant a request to allow a person to resume use of a maiden or previous name. Family courts also handle separation actions, which may include custody, visitation, support and division of property.

SEPARATION

When you and your spouse have separated but do not have grounds for divorce, you can apply to the court for the right to live separate and apart. This is done through an action for “separate maintenance and support,” which is a claim for spousal support. If the court considers issues of alimony, child support or child custody at this time, it can also deal with equitable division of marital property. Separation officially begins on the day that the spouses no longer live together.

AGREEMENTS

By working together, spouses are often able to decide issues without court intervention. When such agreements are reached, the parties have settled their case. When a couple has settled their issues, their lawyers will present the agreement to the court and request that the judge approve the agreement. If the court finds the agreement fair, reasonable and voluntary, then the agreement will become an official court order when signed by the judge.

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