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Are You Required to Prove Fault in a Divorce?

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Jul 09, 2015 | 0 Comments

It is understandable that after watching TV shows and movies depicting divorce, you could come away with the conclusion that it is required to prove fault in a divorce case. Many scenes depict the dramatic moment of pinning the blame on one party or another, proving abandonment, abuse, or infidelity.

Thankfully, the reality is far less exciting. In South Carolina (and most other states), there is no requirement that either party be at fault in order for a divorce action to move forward. This is because the option of a “no fault” divorce now exists. As the name implies, no fault divorce cases occur when neither party is to blame for the dissolution of the marriage. This is sometime referred to in general terms as a divorce for irreconcilable differences. In other words, it's not anyone's fault, the marriage just didn't work out for whatever reason.

In South Carolina, a no fault divorce can be obtained when the parties have lived separate and apart for more than one year. The benefit of this approach is it avoids the brutal and often costly process of proving before a judge that one party is responsible for the collapse of the marriage. This process can be difficult in terms of gathering evidence and emotionally exhausting for the participants who are forced to point fingers over an already sensitive subject.

However, there are some cases where it may make sense to move forward with divorce for fault. For example, if you can prove that your spouse committed adultery, she is barred and prohibited from receiving any alimony. Also, other divorce grounds, such as physical abuse and/or substance abuse, can figure into child custody and visitation decisions, and they are often brought the Court's attention for that reason. Proving fault grounds such as these are often expensive but frequently pay off in the long run.

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J. Benjamin Stevens

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