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What are legal grounds for divorce in South Carolina?

If you decide you want to end your marriage in South Carolina, one of the first steps is figuring out how to initiate the legal action to get a divorce. State law requires you to provide grounds for divorce when you file the paperwork. This requirement holds whether you file the divorce action by itself or as part of a request for maintenance and support.

The South Carolina Bar states that the law recognizes five grounds for divorce. Four of them, physical cruelty, abandonment, adultery and habitual drunkenness, may require the testimony of a third-party witness to prove the truth of the claims. The state also allows "no-fault" divorce. In order to qualify for this type of divorce, you and your spouse must have lived apart for at least one year before initiating the divorce action.

While the grounds for divorce South Carolina recognizes have simple names, it may be a complicated process to prove them. For example, proving physical cruelty may require you to provide evidence that your spouse's actions put you at risk of seriously bodily harm and/or death. A court may require more evidence than your testimony; you may have to get a witness to corroborate your claims.

With a no-fault divorce, the requirements are slightly different. You do not need to file any official paperwork when you begin the required one year of living separately. Once the year is up, you may provide evidence of separate households when you file for the divorce action. It is important to note that South Carolina law does not recognize emotional abuse or mental cruelty as grounds for divorce.

This information on divorce in South Carolina is general in nature and intended to educate; it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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