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South Carolina Divorce Laws

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South Carolina Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

When both spouses are residents of the state when the action is filed, the plaintiff must have resided in this State for only three months prior to commencement of the action. When only one spouse resides in the state , the plaintiff must have resided in this State for at least one year prior to the commencement of the action or, if the plaintiff is a nonresident, the defendant must have so resided in this State for this period. Papers shall be filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where either spouse resides. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-30 and 20-3-60]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

A divorce may be granted only on the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for a period of one year.
  • Physical cruelty.
  • Habitual drunkenness, including habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug.
  • On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year.

[Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-10]

LEGAL SEPARATION:

In all actions for separate support and maintenance, legal separation, or other marital litigation between the parties, allowances of alimony and suit money and allowances of alimony and suit money pendente lite shall be made according to the principles controlling such allowance and actions for divorce. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-140]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

The court shall make a final equitable apportionment between the parties of the parties' marital property upon request by either party in the pleadings. Each spouse is entitled to keep his or her non-marital property, consisting of property which was:

  1. Acquired prior to the marriage.
  2. Acquired by gift or inheritance.
  3. Acquired in exchange for non-marital property.
  4. Was acquired due to an increase in the value of any non-marital property.
  5. Property that is excluded from marital property by written contact of the parties. In making apportionment, the court must give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties;
  • Marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties;
  • The value of the marital property. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in value of the marital property, including the contribution of the spouse as homemaker; provided, that the court shall consider the quality of the contribution as well as its factual existence;
  • The income of each spouse, the earning potential of each spouse, and the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets;
  • The health, both physical and emotional, of each spouse;
  • The need of each spouse or either spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse's income potential;
  • The non-marital property of each spouse;
  • The existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse;
  • Whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded;
  • The desirability of awarding the family home as part of equitable distribution or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children;
  • The tax consequences to each or either party as a result of any particular form of equitable apportionment;
  • The existence and extent of any support obligations, from a prior marriage or for any other reason or reasons, of either party;
  • Liens and any other encumbrances upon the marital property, which themselves must be equitably divided, or upon the separate property of either of the parties, and any other existing debts incurred by the parties or either of them during the course of the marriage;
  • Child custody arrangements and obligations at the time of the entry of the order; and
  • Such other relevant factors as the trial court shall expressly enumerate in its order.

[Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-7-472 and 20-7-473]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

In proceedings for divorce from the bonds of matrimony, and in actions for separate maintenance and support, the court may grant alimony or separate maintenance and support in such amounts and for such term as the court considers appropriate as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of case may be just, pendente lite, and permanently. No alimony may be awarded a spouse who commits adultery before the earliest of these two events:

  • The formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement.
  • entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties. In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

  1. The duration of the marriage.
  2. The age of each spouse, including physical and emotional condition.
  3. The educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse's income potential.
  4. The employment history and earning potential of each spouse.
  5. The standard of living established during the marriage.
  6. The current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses.
  7. The marital and non-marital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action.
  8. Custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature.
  9. Marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties.
  10. The tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded.
  11. The existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party.
  12. Such other factors the court considers relevant.

[Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-130]

SPOUSE'S NAME:

The court, upon the granting of final judgment of divorce or an order of separate maintenance, may allow a party to resume a former surname or the surname of a former spouse. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-180]

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