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Choosing Between a Fault or No Fault Divorce

Going through the breakup of a marriage is painful, regardless of the reasons. With some couples, the decision to part ways is mutual. With others, one of the spouses engages in conduct that their partner just cannot forgive. In ‘no-fault’ divorce states, divorces are granted based on the irreconcilable differences between the spouses without getting into who is to blame. In South Carolina, fault grounds are not required for getting a divorce, but a spouse’s misbehavior can have a major impact on the overall proceedings.

Fault Grounds for Divorce in South Carolina

There are five basic grounds for divorce in South Carolina, four of which place fault specifically on one of the parties involved. Under Section 20-3-10 of the South Carolina Code, the four fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery

  • Desertion of one spouse by the other for a period of a year or more

  • Physical cruelty

  • Habitual drunkenness, which includes the use of narcotics as well as alcohol

Divorces involving fault grounds often involve disagreements between the spouses over division of marital property, alimony, and child custody and support. Judges generally consider any wrongful behavior alleged when making decisions on these issues, which can have significant impacts on your divorce settlement. Alimony or a greater share of marital property may be awarded to a wronged spouse as a way of compensating them for any financial losses. Judges will consider moral fitness and poor judgment when deciding on child custody arrangements.

It is important to note that when alleging fault grounds in South Carolina divorce cases, you are required to provide evidence to back up your claim. This may include bank statements, receipts, and written communications, as well as witness testimony. If it is shown that a spouse filing a divorce on fault grounds forgave and continued to live with their partner prior to filing or otherwise condoned the behavior, the case will be dismissed.

Filing For A No Fault Divorce

There is an additional ground for filing for divorce in South Carolina that is not fault based. This is when the couple experienced fundamental differences that cannot be resolved and have lived separate and apart for at least a year.

Provided there are no disagreements pertaining to how the couple will handle the division of marital property or child custody arrangements, they may be eligible to file for a simple, no fault divorce. While both no fault and fault based divorce cases are filed with the South Carolina Family Court, a no-fault divorce generally costs considerably less and can be resolved more quickly, often within several months of filing.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

At the Surasky Law Firm, LLC, we understand the emotional impact that going through a divorce can have on you and your family. Contact our experienced divorce attorneys today to request a free consultation regarding your situation.

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