In many states, a "legal separation" is a kind of limbo, a state somewhere between married and divorced.
Under South Carolina law, there is no legal separation. You are either married, or you are divorced.
But, don't let the legal terms fool you - separation isn't a legal status, but you must be separated before you can get a no-fault divorce in South Carolina.
How Long Do I Have to Wait to Get a Divorce in SC?
In South Carolina, you must live apart from your spouse for at least one year before you can get a no-fault divorce. This is an unusually long waiting period - a lot of states don't require any separation time before granting an uncontested divorce.
Some SC lawmakers have tried to at least shorten the state's separation requirement to six months, but all efforts have failed.
Do I Need a Separation Agreement?
While there is no legal separation, your attorney can help you negotiate an "order of separate maintenance and support" once you and your spouse are living separate and apart.
This temporary order can resolve a lot of the issues that come with separation, including:
- Child custody, support, and visitation;
- Who remains in the marital home;
- Who pays the mortgage and other previously shared bills;
- Closing joint accounts;
- Transferring titles to personal property into the name of one spouse or the other;
- Divvying up assets as well as debt; and
- Spousal support.
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on these issues, the Family Court will approve the agreement if it is fair to both of you and is in the best interest of any minor children.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you will be required to go to mediation, which costs money. If you still can't reach an agreement, the divorce will go to trial, where it will cost even more time and money. Most couples manage to reach an agreement, but, when your spouse is not being reasonable, your divorce lawyer on the Axelrod team will go to court and fight to protect your interests...
Can I Get a Simple, No-Fault Divorce?
Many people do - if you and your spouse can agree on reasonable terms in the separation agreement and there are no contested issues, that agreement can most likely then be incorporated into the family court's final divorce decree.
It's simple, it's easy, but, when there are contested issues like the amount of alimony, the division of assets, or child custody, those issues may have to be litigated and decided by a family court judge.
Your Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer at Axelrod and Associates will help you to negotiate a separation agreement that resolves all issues in your divorce whenever possible. When it is not possible, however, we are also prepared to go to war to protect our clients' interests and children.
If you are considering divorce or separation in the Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Conway, or Rock Hill SC areas, call Axelrod and Associates today at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation.