There are a number of reasons why couples separate and divorce. Perhaps one or both spouses are seeing someone else. Perhaps financial problems reared their ugly head. Perhaps the two of you just seem to be fighting all of the time, and neither of you can put your finger on it.
Regardless of the reason, here at Lowcountry Divorce & Family Law, I am a big, big believer in finding and achieving stability. Stability, it seems, is the key for helping children adjust. Stability, it seems, is the key to a couple at each other’s throats now being able to move forward in their lives and grow stronger at their own respective paces.
Like it or not, it is the public policy of the State of South Carolina to keep people married. Even at the final divorce hearing, the judge will look at a husband and wife in even the most hotly-contested divorce and ask, matter of factly, “is there anything we can do to save this marriage?” I know — it sounds insane.
Regardless of its merits, it is in large part for this reason that courts in the Palmetto State do not recognize a “legal separation.” Preferring to find instead that a couple is either married or not married, the state does provide for a similar type of action, called an “Separate Support and Maintenance.”
An action for Separate Support and Maintenance is governed by the same guidelines as divorce, and may provide a mechanism by which you and your spouse may begin to find that “new normal” and start down the road to stability in advance of your actual divorce. Such an action may even provide for spousal support, in the form of pre-divorce alimony-ish payments made from one spouse to the other.
In terms of actual divorce, the Palmetto State has four “fault” grounds for divorce:
- Physical Cruelty
- Habitual Drunkenness and/or Drug Abuse
Aside from the four “fault” grounds for divorce, the State of South Carolina also recognizes a “no-fault” ground for divorce. That “no-fault” ground is called “Living Separate and Apart for One Year Without Cohabitation” and, in order to be eligible, you and your spouse must intentionally and continuously live in separate residences for at least one year prior to filing for divorce.
Regardless of whether divorce is sought pursuant to one of the four “fault” grounds or the one “no-fault” ground, the state requires that the party filing for divorce proves at least one of these grounds with legally sufficient evidence. In this context, “legally sufficient” evidence refers to evidence that satisfies the Court that one of the grounds exists — this is usually done with the assistance of third-party testimony, whether that testimony be from a family member or friend who can attest firsthand that you and your spouse have indeed lived separate and apart for one year, testimony from a Private Investigator providing evidence of infidelity, or testimony from a doctor or law enforcement officer supporting a finding of spousal abuse.
Whether you are looking to file for Separate Support and Maintenance or Divorce, or whether you have already been confronted with paperwork from your spouse, feel free to contact me for a consultation.
Family Law is all that I do. As a divorce lawyer, I understand what you are going through. And piece of mind is only a phone call away. Serving all of the Charleston, SC area.