When a married couple decides to divorce in South Carolina, the process begins when the couple actually physically separates. From there, there are many options for how to proceed. Most people hire divorce attorneys and proceed with working towards either a "legal separation" or a divorce on the grounds of a fault allegation. Either way, the parties end up with an Order from the Court dictating how the assets, money, debts, and property of the marriage will be divided. But what happens when the couple simply separates but never pursues a legal "end" to their marital relationship? In South Carolina, this can be a very risky situation to be in, especially when the years begin to tick by. Here are just a few of the complications that can arise in these cases:
Who's Really in Control of the Assets?
During long-term separations, neither party has control over how the other manages the marital assets. This means you have no way to police or control what your partner spends or saves and it could mean that you end up on the hook if your spouse decides to rack up serious debt. Without an Order from the Court dictating the date of separation and delineating the date in time for which you each become solely responsible for your own financial decisions, you risk being affected by your soon-to-be-ex's poor (or vindictive) financial decisions.
Expensive Games of Hide-and-Seek
Another problem with long-term separations are that they provide your spouse a perfect opportunity to hide assets. If your spouse has a devious mind and the relationship remains hostile, he or she could be using this long time apart to squirrel away money that you then lose track of in an eventual divorce. Also, if you and your spouse physically separate without first doing a complete household and financial inventory and a case has not been filed yet, it may become nearly impossible to know what all the assets and financial holdings of the marriage were at the time of separation. A long separation can make it difficult if not impossible to monitor the financial lifestyle of your partner and thus makes it easy to miss important signs that assets are being hidden.
Your Alimony Case Could Be Negatively Impacted
Another problem that many people may not think of in long-term separations is that you may be forced to deal with a reduced standard of living that could end up making it harder to get alimony based on your marital lifestyle. The trouble is that if you spend years accepting a reduced standard of living, it will be harder for your attorney to argue that you are entitled to the same standard of living you enjoyed during your marriage.
Everyone Needs Closure
A final problem associated with a lengthy separation is that both parties are prevented from moving on with their lives. A South Carolina divorce can hard and is emotionally draining for almost everyone. However, despite its difficulty, it at least does have a silver lining and that is you are out of your miserable relationship. As much as a divorce represents a painful ending, it also represents a powerful new beginning and a chance for both you and your former spouse to start newer and happier lives.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 or by clicking here to schedule an initial consultation.