Is Legal Separation Applicable in South Carolina?
In the eyes of the South Carolina law and the family law courts, you are either married or unmarried. This brings forth questions like what happens when you and your spouse don’t want a divorce? Can’t we just live apart but remain married?
In South Carolina, there exists no legal status between the married and divorced. However, there may be a court order put in place during that time of separation. Even so, you aren’t separate in the eyes of the law, if you still live with your spouse. For the court ordered separation within the set requisite time, you have to live separate, and apart from your spouse. Unfortunately, sleeping in different bedrooms in the same house does not count.
As you get acquainted with all the aspects of family law in South Carolina, you will learn that there are no legal separation forms. Instead, you have to request a temporary hearing then seek an order of Separate Support and Maintenance, also called the Marital Separation Agreement form.
How does the marital separation agreement work in South Carolina?
Though legal separation is non-existent in South Carolina, married couples can sign a separate agreement called the South Carolina Marital Separation Agreement. This is also called a “separate support and maintenance agreement.”
This document is negotiated between both parties with the help of an attorney. An attorney is helpful in the negotiations and for the protection of your interests.
What does the Marital Separation Agreement settle?
The agreements settle important issues such as:
Division of personal property and real estate
Child support, custody, and visitation of minor children
Allocation of debts plus legal fees
Life and health insurance agreements
Process of getting the marital separation
Technically, legal separation doesn’t exist in South Carolina. However, you can get an Order of Separate Support and Maintenance mentioned above. A family court judge issues the order. After separation, you get to file for the separation agreement with the court. You are ‘legally separated’ only after the court approves the agreement. Note that this agreement doesn’t count as a divorce.
Both legal separation and the Order of Separate Support and Maintenance accomplish similar goals.
Either party can request a temporary hearing asking the court for relief during the period of separation.
Difference between legal separation and a divorce
These are two different legal entities stating whether a couple is married or not. As mentioned above, a couple is either married or unmarried in South Carolina. In states where legal separation is recognized, adultery during the period of separation still counts as adultery in marriage.
In South Carolina, the parties don’t have to fulfill the Order of Separate Support and Maintenance for them to fulfill the one-year separation requirement for a no-fault divorce.
How much does the legal separation agreement cost?
Getting a legal separation agreement will cost you. First of all, you have to get a competent family attorney, who will charge you service fees.
Other than the attorney fees, you also have to pay a filing fee payable to the Clerk of Court to file the action. Currently, the filing fee is $150.00.
If you need a temporary hearing, you also have to pay for it. The temporary hearing will cost you an additional $25.00.
What necessitates the Marital
Separation Agreement in South Carolina?
Considering the cost and the lengthy process, and the fact that the family courts in South Carolina don’t recognize separation, why would you want to go through all that trouble?
The agreement protects each spouse financially, and it provides financial assistance to minor children
If you wait long enough to get a divorce finalized, you will have a lot more accrued debt.
A party may need child support or visitation rights,
A party may need the court to order one party not to dispose of their marital assets.
Whether you live in Charleston, Columbia, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Rock Hill, Greenville, Summerville, Goose Creek, Sumter, Hilton Head Island or any other city of South Carolina, you can use our legal forms easily.