The divorce process is an extremely difficult and emotional time for the separating spouses and their families. Filing for divorce marks the end of a relationship and in order to do so, understanding the divorce law of the state you or your spouse are filing in is extremely important.
What are South Carolina’s Grounds For Divorce?
In South Carolina, there are five grounds for divorce. In other words, divorce will not be allowed by a court in South Carolina unless one of the following five grounds exist:
- Desertion for a period of one year,
- Physical cruelty,
- Habitual abuse of alcohol or any type of narcotic,or
- The spouses have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for one year.
The first four grounds are there to protect the spouse who does not engage in that behavior. These are known as fault grounds, meaning that the divorce falls on the fault of the spouse engaging in that particular behavior. The last ground, known as a non-fault ground, exists as a way to try and get couples considering divorce to think about their decision and try to work it out. This one-year period obviously does not always bring spouses together, but its goal is to get spouses to reconsider their divorce decision.
When Can I File For Divorce?
As long as one of the grounds that are listed above has been met, then you can file for divorce. However, the divorce process will not start until one of the grounds have been met, so if you have a non-fault situation, you and your spouse will have to wait through the one year separation period. Once one of the spouses has filed for divorce, the other cannot deny that divorce. The process, unless resolved by the spouses, must proceed.
What is South Carolina’s Stance on Legal Separation?
In South Carolina, the law is pretty clear cut: you are either married, or you are not married. Some states recognize legal separation, which is when spouses agree to separate but not go through the official divorce process. Instead of divorcing, some couples decide to agree to separate, and then go on to marry others. That is not allowed in South Carolina. Until the divorce is final as ruled by the court, you and your spouse do not have the right to marry another person. Even dating is difficult. If you or your spouse start dating someone else before the divorce is final, the other divorce party can look at that and use it as an argument for adultery.
How is Alimony Determined?
Before we get into how alimony is determined, it is extremely important to know that alimony WILL NOT be awarded if a spouse commits adultery before:
- The formal signing of a settlement, and
- The entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and approval of settlement agreement.
If that condition has been met, then alimony can be awarded to the party that needs it. Alimony can be allotted in a number of ways. These include:
- Periodic alimony,
- Lump-sum alimony,
- Rehabilitative alimony, and
- Reimbursement alimony.
The types of alimony are not exclusive to the above, but those are the most common. However, the court will decide which type best fits the divorce situation. Many ask at the onset of divorce how much they will receive in alimony. The short answer to that question is that there is no set or definitive number. The alimony amount differs per case and is determined based on the spousal situation. The court considers a number of factors in determining the alimony:
- The duration of the marriage and the spouses ages,
- The well-being of each party, i.e. physical and mental state,
- Each spouse’s educational background and the added cost of extra education in order for that spouse to reach their income potential,
- Work history and what each spouse could potentially earn,
- The standard of living that the spouses established over the course of their marriage,
- The actual and reasonably predicted earning of each spouse,
- The actual and reasonably predicted living expenses of each spouse,
- The properties of each party and whether properties were acquired before or after the marriage,
- Custody of children and whether custody affects the custodians ability to get a job or limits the hours they can work,
- The fault and/or mismarital conduct of each spouse,
- The tax repercussions as a result of the award,
- If there is previous support on either side from a prior marriage,
- Any other factors the court finds applicable.
As you can see, there are many different factors that determine the alimony amount in a divorce case. The judge weighs all the factors in regards to alimony and makes the decision based on the evaluation. As stated in the section before this one, it is extremely important to be cautious of dating before the divorce has been ruled final because that can be considered adultery and seriously impact your potential alimony award.
Once the Divorce Is Over, Can I Change My Name and Move Out of State?
According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, you can legally change your name once the divorce papers have become final. Once the divorce is over, you are free to do as you wish in terms of name change, dating, and marrying. However, you still do need to abide by the settlement agreement. You are also permitted to move out of state as long as it does not violate the agreement between the parties.
Contact an Attorney in Greenville Who Cares
There are many divorce lawyers who will go through the motions and simply treat your case as just another case. Robert Clark is a dedicated South Carolina divorce lawyer who will passionately fight for you and with you as you go through the emotional turmoil or a divorce. Robert, an accomplished divorce lawyer, will passionately assist you in making sure the outcome of the divorce leaves you with what you need. For help with your South Carolina divorce fight, contact Robert today!