As Family Law is one of the few legal realms that are still almost entirely regulated under the local law of each State rather than Federal law, it’s important to be aware of what reasons give a spouse cause or the ability to file for divorce in the State appropriate for such action. Unlike other States where one may file for a divorce under a quite different set of procedures, South Carolina Statute 20-3-10 outlines specifically what the grounds for divorce are in this State regardless of which county a spouse may reside.
Adultery is cheating on one’s spouse. Although defenses can be raised to the adultery ground for divorce, generally adultery also bars the cheating spouse from receiving alimony unlike other divorce grounds.
(2) Desertion for a period of one year;
Completely deserting someone all together in the information age for an entire year is much less likely to happen than in the past, making desertion for a period of one year one of the least commonly seen grounds for divorce in modern times, often the one year separation ground may take its place. Nevertheless, there are times when a spouse does not contact or support their partner for a period of a year at least, and one may still file under desertion.
(3) Physical cruelty;
Unfortunately, mental cruelty and/or verbal abuse are not grounds for divorce in South Carolina, although they do have significance in other parts of family law disputes. Physical cruelty is taken very seriously as the safety of people and their children are often in danger.
(4) Habitual drunkenness; provided, that this ground shall be construed to include habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug; or
Habitual drunkenness is a consistent overuse of alcohol that leads to the breakup of the marriage. Additionally, narcotics, drugs, prescriptions and other misuse or overuse of a substance often qualifies under the same divorce ground.
(5) Living Separate and Apart for one year; On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year. A plea of res judicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground.
The last divorce ground is pretty much as close as one can get to a mutual, “no-fault type” of divorce in South Carolina using the traditional statutory divorce grounds. It is important to note that when one files for a divorce under the fifth divorce ground, living separate and part for one year, there can be no resumption of marital relations or indicia that may indicate the resumption of marital relations during the entire one year period.
In an upcoming blog post, we will outline the statutory defenses to the above divorce grounds, bookmark or subscribe to the Carolina Firm Blog!