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Differences between North Carolina and South Carolina divorce law: 4-part series

By Lindsey Sink Dasher, Family Law Attorney licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina

For many residents of our area, driving back and forth between North and South Carolina is a daily occurrence. Our attorneys who practice in both North and South Carolina are also crossing state lines on a regular basis to represent clients in both states. Many people in our area come to our office for initial consultations with preconceptions about the law and the court that they have heard from neighbors, friends, co-workers, and, of course, Google. Sometimes, this secondhand information is accurate. All too often, however, the information is not accurate or is irrelevant to that particular person’s present situation.

One of the most common questions we are asked in initial consultations is whether the potential client is eligible for a fault-based divorce.

In North Carolina, the answer is always no. North Carolina is a “no-fault” state, meaning that no matter what you or your spouse did to one another, you have to wait one year and one day from your date of separation to be able to sign a verified lawsuit seeking an absolute divorce. Although adultery, abandonment and other forms of marital fault may give you a certain advantage or disadvantage in litigation, these forms of misconduct are not grounds for absolute divorce in North Carolina.
In South Carolina, however, the answer may be yes. Like North Carolina, South Carolina also recognizes “no fault” divorces which are granted after a period of one year from date of separation. Additionally, South Carolina recognizes four other grounds for divorce: (1) adultery, (2) desertion for a period of one year, (3) physical cruelty, and (4) habitual drunkenness and/or drug use. Litigants are required to prove their allegations to a judge in a hearing, regardless of which ground they seek to prove as the basis for divorce. Many people desire to seek a divorce on fault-based grounds because there is not a required one-year waiting period prior to the hearing. A spouse can file for a fault-based divorce as soon as the fault occurs, and a hearing can be held three months after filing.

Have questions about divorce in either North Carolina or South Carolina? Contact our office today at 704-556-0707 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Charlotte family law attorneys.

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