There are many different reasons why people divorce.

Sometimes people have fallen out of love. Sometimes one person is having an affair. Sometimes drugs and/or alcohol have taken up residency in a marriage causing it to fail.

There is an infinite number of reasons for divorce.

Reasons vs. Types of Divorce

Reasons for divorce and types of divorce are two completely different things. Reasons for divorce are numerous, and it would be almost impossible to list all reasons for divorce due to what I like to refer to as the “human element” that is involved in all divorces.

Although there are many reasons for divorce, the types of divorce are limited. It breaks down even further – there are certain “grounds for divorce” that you have to meet to divorce in SC.

Types of Divorce in SC

In South Carolina, there are two basic types of divorce—fault and no-fault.

No-Fault Divorce

People can get divorced without it being the legal “fault” of either party. This is what is referred to as a “no-fault divorce.” There are a few different reasons you may get a no-fault divorce. They include:

  • Neither party is blaming the other for anything in particular
  • There is insufficient evidence to establish the fault of the other person
  • It could just be the easiest way to obtain a divorce

To get a no-fault divorce, the parties must live separate and apart for one year prior to the divorce. This one year separation means one year of continuous separation—the parties cannot have gotten back together during the one-year period!

Fault Divorce & Grounds for Divorce

The second type of divorce in South Carolina is a fault divorce. Fault divorce basically means that one spouse is blaming the end of the marriage on the other spouse. To fall within fault divorce, you must meet the requirements of one of the four “fault grounds.” In South Carolina the available grounds for divorce are adultery, habitual drunkenness, physical cruelty, and desertion. I’ll break down each one of them below.

To obtain a fault divorce, the complaining party (the spouse who is asking for the divorce) must be able to prove the alleged conduct warranting a fault divorce. Additionally, the parties must live separate and apart for ninety continuous days from the date of filing the complaint before a divorce can be granted.


The fault ground of adultery is when one spouse is cheating on the other. One party must prove the opportunity and inclination of the other party to commit adultery.

Hiring a private investigator can oftentimes be helpful in proving adultery, particularly if someone suspects their spouse is committing adultery, but does not yet have the necessary proof or confirmation.

Physical Cruelty

The fault ground of physical cruelty involves physical abuse that created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. Physical cruelty doesn’t always look in real life like it does in the movies. It could be a series of events or one single event, but the event or events must endanger “life, limb or health” and make living together “unsafe.” A few examples are running someone over with a car, one spouse punching the other in the face when they get mad, or one spouse violently twisting the other’s arm every time they argue. The complaining party does not have to prove actual injury, just that the other party’s conduct posed a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Habitual Drunkenness

The fault ground of habitual drunkenness involves drug or alcohol addiction. One party is regularly drinking and/or using drugs to the extent that it is habitual in nature and has caused the breakdown of the marriage.

Evidence of habitual drunkenness can include criminal charges resulting from drug/alcohol use, medical records indicating treatment required as a result of and/or test results indicating drug/alcohol use, problems at work relating to drug/alcohol use, or the testimony of others witnessing this conduct.

The complaining party must prove that the other person is habitually engaging in substance abuse which has led to the breakdown of the marriage.


The fault ground of desertion is also known as abandonment. This is an infrequently used fault ground in South Carolina, although it still exists. One party has left the complaining party without justification or consent, stayed gone for at least one year, and there is no intent to live together again.

The parties have not agreed upon the separation. One person may just come home to find the other person has packed up and left without any explanation of where s/he has gone. This is infrequently used today, as there is now a no-fault ground which allows for divorce after one-year continuous separation.

Contemplating divorce in SC?

While there are many causes for divorce, the types of divorce in South Carolina are limited. There are many reasons—legal and nonlegal—why a person may choose to initiate a fault divorce over a no-fault divorce. For example, proving that a person has committed adultery bars that person from receiving alimony. There are other legal reasons as well, and the nonlegal reasons are likely too many to list.

Consulting with a divorce attorney in your area can help a person decide which route to take and could be financially beneficially in the long run.

Questions? Speak With Jennilee.

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