After a federal court ruling in November 2014, same-sex marriages were legally recognized in South Carolina. In South Carolina, laws for marriage and divorce are the same for same-sex marriages as they are for heterosexual unions. Thus, same-sex couples in South Carolina have the right to file for divorce on equal terms.
Same-Sex Divorce in South Carolina
Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is a legal process in which a marriage contract is officially severed. The law requires that the Plaintiff filing for divorce must have resided in South Carolina for one year, or if the Plaintiff is a non-resident, the Defendant must have resided in South Carolina for one year. If both parties are residents of South Carolina, the Plaintiff need only have resided in South Carolina for three months.
Grounds for Same-Sex Divorce
The grounds for same-sex divorce are the same as for a heterosexual divorce. Under South Carolina law, a party may obtain a divorce based on one or more of the following grounds:
- Adultery; or
- Desertion or abandonment for more than one year; or
- Physical cruelty; or
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse; or
- Living separate and apart for more than one year.
The one-year separation is a no-fault ground for divorce. The party seeking the divorce must present corroborating evidence that the parties have lived separate and apart (under separate roofs) for more than one year.
Issues in Same-Sex Divorce
While there may be issues of a personal nature that are unique to same-sex marriages, South Carolina law recognizes equality in marriage between gay couples and straight couples. As a result, potentially contentious issues are all resolved the same way, regardless of the kind of marriage.
Common difficult issues to resolve in divorce proceedings are:
Child custody issues can be more complicated for same-sex couples if neither parent has a biological connection with the child. Even so, South Carolina child custody law says that the court should always make decisions with the child’s best interests in mind. South Carolina family courts are committed to the well-being of children.
Just like in a heterosexual marriage, same-sex couples can benefit from support from a mediator to help resolve difficult issues in divorce proceedings.
If you and your partner are considering a divorce, do not hesitate to reach out. Our team at Bleecker Family Law can help you navigate this difficult process with compassion and care. To speak with a member of our staff, contact us directly, or visit our website to learn more about our services.