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Obtaining a Divorce

While couples do not anticipate needing to one day get divorced, it does occur. The following briefly describes the divorce process and some issues that must addressed by the divorcing couple. However, it is important to note that each divorce is different, depending on numerous variables, including the reasons for seeking a divorce, the ability of the couple to cooperate with each other, and whether any children are involved.

Grounds for Divorce

Under South Carolina law, there are four grounds for an “at-fault” divorce:

  1. Adultery

  2. Desertion for one year or more

  3. Physical cruelty

  4. Habitual drunkenness, which includes drug use

In some cases, the marital relationship will not have deteriorated as a result of any of the above reasons. Under that circumstance, either party can request a “no-fault” divorce. In order for this to be granted, the parties must live separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of at least one year.

Alimony and Maintenance

During the divorce process, either party can request (in the complaint, an answer, or by petition) alimony, which is spousal support. The court will grant alimony if it determines that the claim is well founded. The court considers several factors in determining if alimony is appropriate, including, but not limited to:

  1. Length of the marriage

  2. Educational background of each spouse

  3. Employment history and ability to earn income

  4. Standard of living during the marriage

  5. Age of each spouse

The court can award alimony or separate maintenance and support in an amount that it deems appropriate based on the circumstances of the parties. Separate maintenance and support can be used in situations where the couple is not seeking a divorce, but one spouse requires support while the couple lives separate and apart.

There are several different types of alimony. Periodic alimony terminates upon the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the spouse being supported. Additionally, it also terminates upon the death of either spouse. Under lump-sum alimony, a finite, total sum of money is paid either in one installment or periodically over a period of time. If the payment is being made in installments, it only terminates upon the death of the supported spouse. Importantly, lump-sum alimony is not terminable or modifiable based on a remarriage or change in circumstances.

Two other forms of alimony are intended for specific purposes. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help the recipient complete job training or education in order to become self-sufficient. Reimbursement alimony is awarded when the court deems it appropriate based on events that occurred during the marriage.

Legal Help During Divorce

Divorce can be a complicated and unpleasant experience, which makes it important to seek the help of experienced and compassionate legal representation. If you think your marriage has come to the point in which a divorce is necessary, contact a South Carolina attorney today. At the Surasky Law Firm, LLC, we provide assistance in dealing with all issues related to family law. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing how we can help.

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