COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – South Carolina law states married couples who want to divorce must live separately for one year before they can file. Right now, the South Carolina State House is discussing a bill that would shorten that year-long separation requirement for couples wishing to end their marriage to 150 days.
The only exception to that one year law is if one party files a "divorce for cause" on the grounds of adultery, physical cruelty, or habitual drunkenness.
The law is set in place with the hopes that the couple will reconcile and stay married. Angie Knight, Attorney at Law for the Grand Strand Law Group in Myrtle Beach, says in her eight years of practicing, she has seen that happen one time.
"Most couples who come into my office have already determined that marriage is not right for them," Knight says. "And so, the requirement for one year is onerous and difficult for them."
She says the rule leads to some people lying under oath about having lived separately for a year because it's difficult to support two households. "They're stuck. They're stuck in this life. Stuck in this situation for a full year."
The couples who are already in pain because of the divorce process often have children. "It's stressful on families; it's stressful on children," Knight continues. "It can sometimes cause domestic disturbances because they are tethered together. For that year, they aren't able to move on with their lives."
If the bill passes the State House, the measure still has to go before the SC Senate. If it passes there, it goes straight to the hands of the voters to decide.
"I think it's interesting to note that a lot of the legislatures who are supporting this bill are family law attorneys. It's because they see on a daily basis what the effect is for the one year separation."