Can I Be Legally Separated In South Carolina?

South Carolina does not recognize the term “legally separated.” That can be confusing to some people, especially when they discover that to obtain a no-fault divorce, you have to live separately for one year. 

The laws that govern separation and divorce are unique to each state. For example, North Carolina does recognize legal separation. Many of the couples that live under that heading are doing so because they must also be apart for one year before filing for divorce. The reason for that comparison is that South Carolina’s laws may appear similar to those that recognize legal separation. However, it is essential to understand the distinction if you are going through a divorce. 

Temporary Orders

Upon hearing that a no-fault divorce requires a year of separation, many people will ask how and when they can begin the process. Do I have to wait a whole year before I can start the process? Where can I live in the interim, and who pays for the mortgage if I am not in the home?

These are all very valid (and common) questions. That is why the South Carolina Family Courts issue an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support. Dissolving a marriage can be logistically challenging because it separates two people who have made a conscious effort to tie their lives together. 

The Order of Separate Maintenance and Support offers temporary solutions for a married couple living separately before divorcing. It addresses many of the questions above and concerns people have:

  • Where the children will live
  • How and when you (or your spouse) will visit the children
  • Managing all your assets (e.g., the home, cars, etc.) and paying marital debts
  • And other financial matters such as support

The key here is that this is a temporary order. Coming to agreeable terms and conditions can feel like a separation or divorce agreement. It will not end your marriage. However, it will allow you the time to reach a mutually agreed-upon resolution regarding many of the issues that must be dealt with before getting divorced. 

Cate & Brough

If you are preparing for the divorce process or have further questions about it, contact the trusted legal professionals at Cate & Brough. We are here to guide and advise you through some of the unique challenges of dissolving a marriage in South Carolina. Allow us and our experience to be by your side.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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