If you have made the difficult decision to end your marriage and you are a resident of the State of South Carolina you will need to decide on what grounds you plan to petition for divorce. Although many states allow a couple to obtain a divorce in a rather short period of time after the initial separation, South Carolina is not one of them. It is important, therefore, to consider the grounds you plan to use now so that you can plan accordingly.
Not all that long ago most states required a Petitioner (the person filing the divorce) to prove fault on the part of their spouse as the grounds on which they sought a divorce. Traditional grounds included things such as adultery or abandonment. In the past several decades, however, most states have relaxed that requirement and introduced a “no fault” option. Although South Carolina does allow a “no fault” option, it requires the parties to be separated for one year before getting a divorce.
South Carolina Code § 20-3-10 is where the available grounds for divorce can be found. Those grounds include the following:
- Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotics
- Physical cruelty
- Desertion for one year or more
- Living separate and apart for one year or more
The first fours grounds require the Petitioner to prove fault on the part of the Respondent whereas the fifth option requires no showing of fault. If you choose to file on one of the fault grounds you will be required to present actual evidence to prove the grounds on which you filed. For example, if you claim your spouse is an adulterer you must convince the court that he or she has, indeed, committed adultery. Likewise, a claim of habitual drunkenness must be substantiated by the Petitioner. Exactly what evidence the court will accept is a question that only your South Carolina family law attorney can answer.
Choosing the no fault option is certainly more amicable and requires no evidence other than testimony proving that you have been living apart from your spouse for at least one year. The disadvantage, however, to using the no fault option is that you must wait one year to even file the Petition for Divorce.
Like all decisions in your divorce, the choice of grounds used in your Petition should only be made after consultation with your South Carolina family law attorney.
If you have additional questions or concerns about filing for divorce or the divorce process, contact the experienced South Carolina family law attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.