For many married couples, the decision by one or both spouses to get a divorce is one of the most challenging and emotional decisions they will ever make. This decision can quickly become even more complicated if one or both parties are pursuing an at-fault divorce.
In an at-fault divorce in South Carolina, you must show that your spouse is responsible for the failure of your marriage based on specific grounds for divorce, such as adultery or desertion.
As an at-fault divorce can greatly impact the final allocation of marital assets once the legal process is complete, it’s important to fully understand each of the permissible grounds for an at-fault divorce in South Carolina.
If you need a lawyer for your divorce, the family law team at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, is here for you. We have extensive experience with the intricacies of divorce proceedings, and we’ll fight to pursue what you deserve.
To learn more, call us today or visit our contact page.
Do You Have to Have a Specific Reason to Get a Divorce in South Carolina?
No, you are not required to have a specific reason to get a divorce in South Carolina. Spouses can seek a divorce after living apart for at least one year. However, in some situations, it may be necessary to seek an at-fault divorce.
South Carolina allows four reasons for getting an at-fault divorce:
- Habitual drunkenness or drug use
- Physical cruelty
While physical cruelty is grounds for an at-fault divorce, South Carolina law currently does not recognize emotional or mental abuse as valid reasons to dissolve a marriage.
Is South Carolina a No-Fault Divorce State?
You can pursue either a no-fault or an at-fault divorce in South Carolina, depending on the individual circumstances. You can read more about the requirements for a no-fault divorce versus those for an at-fault divorce below.
Do You Have to Be Legally Separated Before You Can Get a Divorce?
If you’re pursuing an at-fault divorce, you do not have to be legally separated before filing for divorce. No-fault divorces in South Carolina require a one-year period of separation before any divorce can be granted.
How Do You File for a Divorce in South Carolina?
Filing for a no-fault divorce in South Carolina is straightforward. As soon as the spouses begin living separate lives in separate homes, a one-year clock starts. If the spouses live separately for the length of a whole year, they can file for a no-fault divorce. However, there’s a three-month waiting period before any divorce decree can be issued. If both parties are civil, this can be a fairly painless process.
At-fault divorces may take less time than a no-fault divorce, but the process is much more complicated. The spouse who wants the divorce can file the paperwork without being legally separated, but they will have to present evidence to a judge at a hearing if they want the other spouse to be removed from the marital home.
A family law attorney can help you gather this evidence if you’re seeking an at-fault divorce and want your spouse to be removed from your home.
Each of the four allowable reasons for an at-fault divorce in South Carolina require different kinds of evidence and have different standards of proof.
To prove adultery, you do not have to show that your spouse was physically intimate with another person. If you can show opportunity (for example, your husband spent the night alone with another woman in a hotel) and inclination (for example, any romantic texts or emails your spouse may have sent to another person), that may be enough proof even without physical evidence of any sexual encounter.
The rules are slightly different for the other three grounds for an at-fault divorce. For habitual drunkenness or drug use, it’s necessary to demonstrate that the regular use of alcohol or drugs led to the breakdown of marriage. A single instance of drug use, or rare use, is usually not enough. For an at-fault divorce based on desertion, your spouse must have abandoned you for an entire year before a divorce can be granted.
The rules governing at-fault divorce based on physical cruelty are complicated. The spouse filing for divorce must show that the other spouse’s actions created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm. This can be a single instance of violence or a pattern of behavior over time.
However, actual physical contact is not required for a divorce if the act in question was life-threatening, indicated a willingness to do serious bodily harm, or was of such intensity that there appeared to be a risk of bodily harm in the future.
If you’re not sure whether your spouse’s actions are sufficient grounds for divorce based on physical cruelty, an attorney with a background in family law can go over your case in more detail to see what your options are.
Do You Have to Have a Lawyer to Get a Divorce in South Carolina?
While it’s not required that you have a lawyer to get a divorce in South Carolina, you’re almost certain to be much better off if you hire a lawyer. Family law cases are complicated, and many times the process can be very tiring and emotional for both spouses, as well as their children and other family members.
With an experienced attorney by your side, you’re much more likely to secure a favorable outcome and get a better distribution of your marital assets. Having an attorney to handle the legal matters allows you to focus on your future life.
How Our Lawyers Can Help You with a Divorce
Quality legal representation can make all the difference in a divorce case. We can help gather evidence in your case, make sure any paperwork is filed correctly and on time, and we’ll handle any communication between you, your spouse, and their attorney. This keeps the process moving smoothly while minimizing the chance of any painful encounters between you and your spouse.
At McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we’re committed to standing up for your rights. To learn more about our family law services, call our office today.
Ed Anderson is a Tennessee native who came to South Carolina to attend Furman University – and liked the state so much that he decided to stay here to pursue his legal career. After he earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Ed joined McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, in 2017, where he focuses on family law and personal injury law. In addition to his law practice, Ed is an active member of the South Carolina Bar’s Young Lawyers Division.