While the State of South Carolina does not recognize a “legal separation," apreferring to find instead that a couple is either married or not married, the state does provide for a similar type of action, called an “Action for Separate Support and Maintenance." An Action for Separate Support and Maintenance is governed by the same guidelines as divorce, and may provide a mechanism by which you and your spouse may begin to find that “new normal" and start down the road to stability. Such an action may even provide for spousal support, in the form of pre-divorce payments made from one spouse to the other.
South Carolina has four “fault" grounds for divorce:
In South Carolina, the family court provides for both alimony and separate support and maintenance, the former in cases of divorce and the latter in cases of separation. Separate support and maintenance is support in effect prior to divorce, in the form of payments made by one spouse to the other, generally while the spouses await the one year of continuous separation that is necessary to satisfy the South Carolina standard for no-fault divorce. Alimony is post-divorce support, in the form of payments made by one former spouse to another and is available to either party.
There are four basic types of alimony. Periodic alimony is the preferred form of alimony and is based on the duration of the marriage, overall financial situation of the parties and whether one spouse was more at fault. Lump sum alimony is a fixed amount of alimony that is paid all at once or in installments over a limited time. Rehabilitation is a finite amount of alimony that is to be paid all at once or in installments over time and is intended to bring the supported party back up to speed to re-enter the workforce and provide for him or herself. The final basic type of alimony is reimbursement. This is a finite amount of money, generally awarded when the court sees fit to reimburse one party from the future earnings of the other for financial events that occurred during the marriage.
In every case, alimony and support are highly fact-and detail-specific. Different types of property can weigh into consideration of any award, as can the individual financial circumstances of each party. It is highly recommended that you discuss this matter with an experienced family law attorney.