Deciding to start the separation process isn’t easy, but it is possible to have an amicable divorce if you work with an experienced lawyer who can prepare you for this major change.
There are around 750,000 divorces every year in the US. Although each state has different requirements for filing for separation, there are some standard steps you take. Read on to learn how to start the separation process.
Confirm State Requirements
First, confirm your state requirements for separation. For example, South Carolina law requires that either you or your spouse have lived in South Carolina for at least a year before filing for divorce. And both of you have to live in South Carolina for three months before divorce proceedings.
You can also check the grounds for filing for separation. If you have lived separately from your spouse for at least a year, you can start divorce proceedings in South Carolina law. Or, you can claim a fault-based divorce if your partner:
- committed adultery
- was physically abusive
- was regularly under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- deserted for at least a year
It is best to consult a divorce lawyer to check your case meets the requirements for a fault-based separation. Each state has different separation and divorce laws. For example, in South Carolina law, legal separation is not formally recognized.
Filing for Separation
Once you meet your state requirements, you file for legal separation or divorce. With a legal separation, the marriage remains intact, whereas it is dissolved when filing for divorce.
However, the process for filing for divorce and separation is similar. The easiest way of doing this is with a divorce lawyer; however, you can also file independently.
You also file your divorce agreement. It should cover all aspects of your separation, such as child custody, marital assets, spousal support, and other finances.
If you are not filing for divorce with your spouse, you have to serve your spouse the divorce documents. They then have to respond within a specific time frame, such as 30 days. They can disagree with the petition.
Most divorce proceedings do not end up in court, but a court trial can happen if there are disagreements. Sometimes you also need temporary orders in place while you wait for the divorce to finalize. It is crucial to consider this and have a reputable divorce lawyer to support you.
You can also consider mediation when a third-party court mediator helps you and your spouse meet a separation agreement. It can help finalize an amicable divorce and also shorten the separation process.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer
It is essential to know how to file for separation and to understand how divorce proceedings work. However, you may also want a divorce lawyer to help you through the separation process. They will help you navigate state requirements, prepare documents, and, if needed, go to trial.
Sara Turner is an experienced family law attorney who works with South Carolina law. Request a consultation to learn how she can help with your separation case.