Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a universal epidemic. According to, it is estimated that 25% of women that seek a divorce do so because of domestic violence. Nevertheless, not all incidents of domestic violence are considered for a divorce in South Carolina. The information that follows is to communicate to you the requirements to obtaining a divorce in South Carolina.

Until very recently in the history of South Carolina, one could not obtain a divorce. In 1947, the state government passed a law that permitted divorce, but not “no fault” divorce. Now there is the basis of a year of separation that would be the equivalent of a no fault divorce. Legal Separation also did not exist in South Carolina; only something called separate support and maintenance. Couples had to appear before a judge and plead their case. To prove the grounds for divorce requires one witness older than 18 years old who can confirm your testimony. When the complaint is filed for a divorce, the Family Court has control over all marital issues. The grounds for divorce are: Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, adultery, abandonment, separation for a year, and physical cruelty.

The ground for divorce because of physical cruelty is defined in the following way: One spouse hits the other, usually over a period of time. One single beating may be sufficient to obtain a divorce if it is extremely serious or if it puts one’s life in danger. One should obtain proof or corroboration; your testimony is not enough for a defense. Mental abuse is not considered a ground for divorce in this state.

South Carolina Legal Services only takes divorce cases where there is the ground of physical cruelty. The physically abusive incident should be so atrocious that it puts the victim’s life in danger or an abuser continues the violence such that it creates a reasonable fear of insecurity and of bodily harm. The acts of abuse should have been observed by a third person or a third person has seen the bruises and/or been a witness to the moments immediately after the abuse occurred.

This article is for legal information and not to provide legal representation. We have a brochure available with more information on divorces in South Carolina. If you think that South Carolina legal Services could help, call our intake line at 1-888-346-5592 to see if we can assist you.