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September 29, 2015

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Gay Divorce in South Carolina

With the Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell decision that gay marriage is the law of the land, the inevitable question of gay divorce logically follows. According to the Post and Courier, the first gay divorce was granted in Charleston County in December of 2014. If you are a married couple (whether gay or straight), South Carolina divorce laws can seem bizarre and archaic to some. Unless there is a “fault-ground” for the divorce, South Carolina requires couples spend one year continuously separated before a divorce can be granted. This is in contrast to many other states with much shorter separation periods.

“Fault Grounds” in South Carolina are limited grounds in which a party can claim that their spouse is at fault in the divorce. This is in contrast to the one year separation rule, which is the only “no-fault” ground for divorce in SC. Reasons for an at-fault divorce in South Carolina are: habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, abandonment, adultery, and one-year’s desertion (due to this being the same length of time as the no-fault ground, it is very rarely used). Irreconcilable Differences is not a ground for divorce in South Carolina.

Gay couples are subject to the same divorce grounds as straight couples in South Carolina. Although Family Courts may not be used to seeing gay couples, it is something that they will certainly have to get used to.