Family Law FAQ
Read Common Questions for a Divorce in South Carolina
Can I get a divorce?
South Carolina provides for five (5) grounds for divorce:
- Physical cruelty
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse
- Desertion for a period of one year
- Living separate and apart for one year (the “no-fault” ground)
Since the grounds require proof, there will be a hearing at some point in your case. Even if the divorce is uncontested, a witness, in addition to the complainant or moving party, will be necessary to corroborate that grounds for the divorce exist.
If you do not have grounds for a divorce but you and your spouse are unable to continue living together as married partners, you may initiate an action for Separate Maintenance and Support. In a Separate Maintenance action, the Family Court may deal with all the issues that arise in an action for a divorce, except for granting a final divorce. In other words, the Court may resolve issues of custody, visitation, child support, alimony and division of assets and debts. It is not uncommon for a couple to have these matters settled in a Separate Maintenance action, and then later file an action for a final divorce in South Carolina when the one-year period of separation has run.
How long do I have to be a resident of South Carolina before I can file for divorce?
Further details on this matter coming soon.
How is child support established in a divorce in South Carolina?
South Carolina law sets forth Child Support Guidelines that the Family Court generally uses to determine the amount of support a non-custodial parent is obligated to pay. The formula considers the respective incomes of each party, childcare expenses and health insurance costs. Occasionally the Family Court will deviate from the Child Support Guidelines where circumstances warrant it. For a general idea of the amount of child support that might be awarded in a particular matter, see the Child Support Calculator.
What does the Court consider in making an award of alimony or spousal support?
The Family Court may award alimony or spousal support, at least temporarily, where one spouse has substantially more income and the other spouse’s income is insufficient to support him or her at the level the parties enjoyed during the marriage. The law sets forth a list of factors the Court should consider in determining the amount and duration of alimony, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The health, education and employment background of each spouse
- The present and anticipated earnings and expenses of each spouse
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Marital misconduct or fault
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