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Habitual Drunkenness Divorce South Carolina

Habitual Drunkenness As Grounds For Divorce

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by Robert Reeves | Apr 13, 2018 | Divorce, Divorce Law

Spouses make a promise at marriage to work together as a team in marriage. If one of the spouses cannot keep up those promises due to constant substance abuse, the marriage does not function. Substance abuse can come in many forms one of those being habitual drunkenness. If you or your spouse fall under that category, you or your spouse has legal grounds for an at-fault divorce under South Carolina law.

The Meat And Potatoes

After the initial fillings, responsive pleadings, and temporary hearing, then the parties can engage in discovery during which each side can request information from the other. For example, both sides will request financial documents from the other, demand a valuation of the home, and they will certainly want to see guaranteed compensation agreements with employers. Sometimes, forensic accounts are needed to understand the full value of the marital assets. Its not uncommon for a party to hide assets or artificially reduce income to avoid having to share it with their soon to be ex-spouse.

While discovery is ongoing, a guardian ad litem may be utilized to help determine long term custody, visitation, and child support issues. The GAL represents the childrens best interest. He or she reports to the court based on interviews, home visits, and other aspects of the investigation. Its important to remember, all matters concerning children must be in the best interest of the children. Further, everything regarding children is modifiable at a future date.

The trial of a divorce case in South Carolina is handled by a judge there is no jury. Trials can last a couple days and up to a couple weeks depending on the case. A divorce trial is a complex matter requiring the expertise of a lawyer and is beyond the scope of this article. If you have a case that might go to trail, its best to use a lawyer from the outset.

Filing For Your Sc Divorce

To begin the SC divorce process, one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce. After it is filed, it must be served on the other spouse, along with a Summons. The Summons informs the Defendant that a divorce action has been brought by the Plaintiff, and he or she must accept and answer the Complaint for Divorce. After the Defendant is served, he or she must file an Answer to the Complaint for Divorce. The Answer provides the Defendant with an opportunity to state any complaints or defenses he or she has related to the claims in the Complaint. If the parties are able to reach an agreement, they can sign a Settlement Agreement to divide the property, assets, debts, and liabilities. The Divorce Agreement can also settle matters of child support, custody, and visitation.

If the parties cannot agree on a settlement, they begin the litigation process which can be complicated and time-consuming. It is critical at this stage to consider hiring a Divorce Attorney to assist with the case.

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What Are The Grounds For Divorce In South Carolina

by Futeral & Nelson, LLC | Divorce, Family Law in Charleston, South Carolina

As divorce lawyers in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, clients frequently ask us what are the grounds for divorce in South Carolina. In South Carolina, there are five grounds for divorce: adultery, habitual drunkenness or narcotics abuse, physical cruelty, desertion for a period of one, and one years continuous separation . South Carolina doesnt recognize mental cruelty or emotional abuse as grounds for divorce.

Can I Change My Name At The Time Of Divorce In South Carolina

Yes. You may change your name at the time of divorce. You must request a name change in your pleadings to put the court on notice that it is an issue before the court. At the time of divorce, you must testify under oath that you are requesting a name change for personal reasons and answer a series of questions that verify that you are not changing your name to avoid criminal charges, bankruptcy, a sex offender registry, etc. See S.C. Code § 15-49-20.

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A Benefit Of Filing For Divorce On A Fault Ground

As provided by S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-80, the fastest way to get divorced is to file on a fault ground, which allows a Family Court judge to grant the divorce as early as three months after you file.

However, it is rare for a divorce to be granted so quickly because all of the other issues related to dissolving the marriage such as division of assets and debts, alimony, child custody, and child support typically must be resolved before a Family Court judge will grant a divorce.

Physical Cruelty In South Carolina

To obtain a divorce on the ground of physical cruelty, one must be able to show their spouses conduct created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm. The South Carolina Court of Appeals previously held that a wife was entitled to a divorce on the ground of physical cruelty based on a single assault by her husband when he shoved her into a wall, verbally abused her, and then broke her telephone when she tried to call for help, which left the wife fearful for her safety. The Court also noted that the wife had testified to other threatening events that ended in the assault, all of which indicated that the husband had the intent to seriously harm his wife.

In South Carolina, the spouse alleging physical abuse must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is evidence that convinces the court of its truth. The family court judge will make the ultimate determination, and your divorce lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case and what evidence you have and to help you decide if you have enough evidence to prove your case.

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How Long Will It Take To Get A Divorce In South Carolina

This warrants the typical lawyer’s answer but it really is the correct answer, âit depends.â A one-year separation case where the parties have been separate and apart for years will process faster than an adultery case where child custody, spousal support, and property division is being litigated.

South Carolina Law does give us two benchmarks in Family Court Litigation. First, a final divorce hearing can’t be heard by the Court until 90 days have passed since the initiation of the Divorce suit. So, even at its quickest, your Divorce case will be active in front of the Family Court for at least 90 days.

Second, through administrative rules, a request for a final hearing on any Family Court matter must be delivered to the Clerk of Court within 365 days of the initiation of the matter.

Though each case is fact sensitive, at least know that, depending upon the complexity of your case, the matter will be active in front of the Family Court for a period of 3 months up to a year in most cases.

Proving Habitual Drunkenness Or Narcotics Abuse In South Carolina

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To prove this ground, you must show that your spouses habitual abuse of alcohol or narcotic drugs caused the marriages breakdown and that the abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce. There are many ways to prove that the abuse caused the marriages breakdown. For example, your spouse may have lost their job due to drinking or drugs or your spouse may be spending the familys money on drugs or alcohol.

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How Do You Prove Adultery In South Carolina

Although pictures or video of your spouse engaging in the act would be ideal, that rarely happens. Your investigator or other witnesses only need to establish that your spouse had 1) the inclination and 2) the opportunity to commit adultery.

For example, if your spouse was holding hands with someone else or kissed them in public, and then disappeared into a hotel room with them for an extended period of time, that would be sufficient evidence to prove adultery.

Does South Carolina Grant Divorces Based On Marital Fault

Yes. South Carolina recognizes Adultery, Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Use, Physical Cruelty, and Desertion.*

*Desertion is rarely used as a ground for divorce since the parties must have lived separate and apart without cohabitation, just as is the requirement for a no-fault one year separation divorce.

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Can A Couple Become Legally Married By Living Together As Man And Wife Under South Carolinas Laws

South Carolina recognizes Common Law Marriage. The Family Court has broad discretion in considering whether a common law marriage exists. While many facts and circumstances are considered, in general, a common law marriage is recognized when the parties have cohabitated together for an extended period of time and both parties presently present themselves as a married couple. Again, there is not a cut and dry answer. You should contact our South Carolina office to receive more information specific to your situation.

How Is A Divorce Granted In South Carolina

A divorce is granted when all issues in your divorce case have been resolved on a final basis and at least one of the parties has proven that a ground for divorce exists to the courts approval. Parties may resolve all issues through their attorneys and come to a settlement agreement, or the parties may need to go through mediation to come to a settlement agreement. If the parties are unable to agree on a settlement, the matter will be set for a trial and a Family Court Judge will make a final ruling on the issues after hearing both parties arguments/testimony.

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How Do I Divorce My Spouse And Keep Everything

This is not likely to happen, but the court will follow the rules identified above when dividing the marital assets.

One factor that the court must consider is marital misconduct for example, if you prove adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, or abandonment as a ground for divorce, you are more likely to keep a greater portion of the marital estate.

Questions About Divorce In South Carolina

If you are considering separation or divorce, call an experienced South Carolina divorce attorneynow who can answer your questions and help to protect your rights during the process.

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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Is South Carolina An Alimony State

In South Carolina, the following statutory factors in determining whether a party should or should not be awarded spousal support. See S.C. Code § 20-3-130.

In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties

the physical and emotional condition of each spouse

the educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouses income potential

the employment history and earning potential of each spouse

the standard of living established during the marriage

the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses

the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses

the marital and non-marital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action

custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature

the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded

such other factors the court considers relevant.

How Is Child Support Calculated In South Carolina

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Child Support in South Carolina is determined by the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. In its purest form, the Child Support Guidelines establish a formula that takes into consideration each parent’s gross income, the cost of work related child care, the total number of children in the home, the cost of medical insurance for the children, and any extraordinary expenses for the children, among other factors. The Family Court does retain discretion to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines under special circumstances. Child support is also affected by the time the child / children spend in the home of each respective parent.

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Is Emotional Abuse A Ground For Divorce In South Carolina

The simple answer is no. As divorce lawyers in Charleston, South Carolina, we know that a spouses emotional abuse can take its toll on you both psychologically and physically. In fact, many of our clients come to us seeking a divorce because their spouse is emotionally cruel to them or the parties children. Regrettably, no matter how emotionally abusive your spouse may be, such as yelling, name-calling, shaming, etc., South Carolina does not recognize emotional abuse as a ground for divorce.

Case Addresses Claims Of Habitual Intoxication As Basis For Divorce

In an opinion recently issued by the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the justices considered the claims of a woman who alleged that she should be granted a divorce based on her husbands habitual intoxication.

The case in question is Miteva v. Robinson. The case centers on a couple who were married in 2007 and who filed for divorce in 2011. The couple had no children together, but each had their own children from prior relationships. The wife claimed she should be granted a divorce on the basis of her husbands use of alcohol and prescription drugs, and requested an equitable division of all marital property.

South Carolina is one of the few remaining states that still allows divorces to be filed on the basis of fault on behalf of one of the spouses. Filing for divorce on the basis of fault permits couples to bypass the one year of separation required to file on a no-fault basis. One of the available faults is habitual drunkenness or drug use. In order to show that one spouse is responsible for the failure of a marriage due to this ground, South Carolina courts require that the accusing spouse prove that the abuse of alcohol caused the breakdown of the marriage and that such abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce, wrote the Court of Appeals in this case.

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Some Steps In The South Carolina Divorce Process

There are many steps in the divorce process. The basic steps involve:

  • Filing the divorce complaint, summons and other required paperwork with the Family Court in the county where you last shared a residence with your spouse or in the county where your spouse lives or where you live .
  • Serving the complaint, summons and other documents on your spouse and giving the spouse 30 days to file an answer and/or counterclaim.
  • Participating in an initial hearing to get a temporary order.
  • Going through negotiation or mandatory mediation to resolve the issues. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps to facilitate an agreement.
  • Going to Family Court trial to seek either a judges approval of your agreement or to hold a trial to resolve contested issues.

Temporary Motion Hearing For Contestrf Divorce In Sc

Most contested divorce cases begin with what is known as a hearing on either partys request in the form of a Motion for Temporary Relief. This is perhaps the most critical phase of any South Carolina Family Court action. At this hearing, the Family Court addresses all issues raised that require an interim decision . Issues determined at this hearing can be the most critical such as custody of children, visitation, restraining orders as to assets, use and possession of the marital residence, and much more. At a temporary hearing, there is usually no live testimony but each party is allowed to present written testimony in the form of affidavits. Sometimes, the Divorce Attorneys will have the opportunity to argue their clients position, other times they will not. The SC Family Court Judge has the opportunity to render a decision at the hearing the often remains in place until a final settlement or final merits hearing.

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South Carolina Divorce Laws

South Carolina divorce laws dictate that you can obtain a SC uncontested divorce, but that requires certain conditions. Most of the time divorces are inherently contested matters. The SC divorce process is pretty straightforward, but there are certain particularities everyone should know before filing for divorce. For more information on SC uncontested divorce read this article. If you need a divorce and just a few issues are contested, this article will help clarify the divorce process.

Its important to understand SC divorce laws so that you reach a fair and appropriate outcome in your divorce. If you really want to take a deep dive, read the statute here. Or, read this article for laymens explanation and find a lawyer to help as soon as you can.

Habitual Drunkenness And Condonation

The South Carolina Court in Wilson v. Wilson stated that Condonation is primarily a state of mind, the existence of which may appear either from the language used, from conduct, or both. 274 S.C. 236, 238, 262 S. E. 2d 732, 733. Even if condonation exists it is a conditional forgiveness as stated in McLaughlin, above ..The authorities appear to be in agreement that condonation is a conditional forgiveness or remission of the previous offense or misconduct of the offending spouse, the implied condition being that the guilty party shall in the future refrain from committing any matrimonial offense. . These portions of the case law in general and McLaughin, supra, specifically, are used by Chastain to illustrate that despite condonation, the original offense/ grounds can be easily revived by future bad conduct. Assuming that it is established that the divorce grounds existed at or near the time of separation, the defense of condonation is almost nonsensical when the offense by its very nature is a recurring one. Every day/instance is a new revival of the offense. 1It is reasonable to believe that drunkeness, given it recurring nature, existed at time of separation particularly if it was established that it existed a mere month prior to the separation. 2This and Much of the following shamelessly lifted from The Law of Domestic Relations in South Carolina Vol. 1 by Randall Chastain, Esq.

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