Not every couple living in a troubled marriage wants to get a divorce. Some no longer want to live together but wish to remain married for financial or religious reasons. For example, staying married can help ensure continued health insurance coverage for an ill or disabled spouse who doesn’t have their own insurance.
There is no such thing as a legal separation under South Carolina law. However, the state continues appearing on websites that list states with legal separation laws. Unfortunately, this is confusing for many residents.
Why does it happen?
Although South Carolina does not recognize legal separation, it allows couples to seek an order of separate maintenance and support. If approved, the order enables spouses to live apart under many of the same provisions arrived at in a divorce.
What can you negotiate when seeking an order?
Pretty much any financial issue couples address during a divorce may also be negotiated when seeking separate maintenance and support. For example:
- Spousal support (alimony): Options include lump-sum, reimbursement, rehabilitative and periodic.
- Marital property: As an equitable distribution state, South Carolina courts divide marital assets fairly, but not always equally, between spouses.
Parents seeking an order of separate maintenance and support may need legal guidance to address child-related issues like custody, support and parenting time.
While an official legal separation is outside your reach, courts strive to provide solutions to those who cannot remain together but also cannot divorce. If you are considering separate maintenance and support in place of divorce, legal counsel is wise to help ensure that your rights remain protected.