The constitution of the state of South Carolina requires couples seeking no-fault divorces to be separated for a period of one year before a no-fault divorce can be granted. Many residents of the state find the length of time to be excessive. Their representatives introduced a bill (House Bill 3111) in January 2015 that would amend the constitution to cut the separation wait time to 180 days, or half a year. The plan was to put the amendment before SC voters at the November 8, 2016 election. The proposed ballot question was:
“Must Section 3, Article XVII of the Constitution of this State be amended so as to provide that a divorce may be granted on the ground of continuous separation for a period of at least one hundred eighty days, rather than on the ground of continuous separation for a period of at least one year?”
According to ballotpedia.org, family court attorney and House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R-24) argued “forcing couples to remain married only leads to more aggravation and further harms children.” He said, ‘We should be looking at ways to make marriages better, not hold you into one you don’t want to be in. It’s too late for the General Assembly to say, ‘Well, we’re just going to make you and sentence you to a year and maybe you’ll reconcile.’” But the opposition argued, “Isn’t this an example of a slippery slope we’re going down? Five years from now, is it going to be 3 months? In 15 years are we going to have drive-through divorces because they get in a fight that night?”
After nearly two years of effort, the attempt failed, and the not-very-revolutionary proposed amendment question will not appear on the ballot this fall. Some state history may help to explain the failure. South Carolina was the last state to legalize divorce, but only on grounds of desertion, adultery, physical abuse, or habitual drunkenness. In 1969, the law allowed for no-fault divorces, with a required separation period of three years. A decade later the separation period was shortened to one year.
The seasoned family law and divorce lawyers at the McGrath Law Firm, founded by attorney Peter McGrath, will walk you through every step of the challenging divorce process to address your concerns and achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. From spousal support, child support, fault, and equitable division of property and debt to valuations, pre-nuptial agreements, and restraining orders, the experienced attorneys at McGrath Law Firm have a successful track record in all aspects of divorce law. Call us to schedule your consultation at (800) 283-1380.