If your marriage is in the process of unraveling, you’re not alone, but it’s important to know what you’re facing if headed toward divorce. While it’s an emotionally driven process, knowing the difference between divorce, annulment, and separation will benefit you.
Separation is a common term for a marriage that’s in trouble. It’s a way to test the waters of being apart, work on reconciliation, or stay apart for a full year to qualify for a no-fault divorce. However, in South Carolina, the courts don’t recognize “separation” as a legal term. A married couple can separate, live in separate homes, separate their finances, etc., but they are still considered legally married until they get a divorce. Couples can, however, seek maintenance, spousal support, during the separation by filing for an Order of Separate Support and Maintenance with the court.
In all states, divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. Therefore, the process must go through the court system to be legally binding. The courts recognize five different reasons for divorce in South Carolina, including physical cruelty, abandonment, adultery, habitual drunkenness, and no-fault. Once filed, a family court judge will preside over the case to help determine the conditions of dissolution and settlements.
Unlike a divorce which dissolves a valid marriage, an annulment indicates the end to a marriage that was not valid to begin with because of a condition that existed at the time of the “marriage”. Reasons the courts will consider annulling a marriage include:
· Coercion to marry
· Mental incompetence
· If one party was underage
· Lack of cohabitation
No matter what, the end of a marriage can be a stressful, emotional, and often overwhelming time. Whether you know the best option for you or you need guidance to determine the right course of action, it’s critical to have an experienced legal team in your corner. If you’re considering separation, divorce, or annulment, contact the team at McCutchen McLean, LLC.