Obtaining a Divorce From An Abusive Spouse in South Carolina

Posted by Leslie SarjiMay 14, 20150 Comments

A number of South Carolina divorces are a result from abusive spousal relationships. While the marriage may start out fine, over time instances of domestic violence have crept in. Domestic violence issues can prompt a need for protection orders from the family court, and ultimately a divorce based on the physical abuse.

Divorce Grounds: Physical Cruelty

In South Carolina, one of the grounds for obtaining a divorce is physical cruelty, i.e., physical abuse in the relationship. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer, the victim spouse must demonstrate to the family court by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has been the victim of physical abuse in the marriage.

In order to be grounds for divorce, the physical abuse must be actual personal violence or treatment that endangers the victim's person, health or living situation. There is no requirement that the abuse must go one for a designated period of time – a single instance of domestic violence or physical abuse could be sufficient for establishing the grounds of physical cruelty for a divorce. There is also no requirement that the victim actually experience physical harm – a physical touching or contact is not necessary to establish physical cruelty. If the violence is life threatening, indicated an intention to cause serious bodily harm, or was to such a degree that there was a risk of serious bodily harm in the future, no physical contact is required.

Evidence of the Physical Cruelty

When filing for divorce on a physical cruelty grounds, the victim spouse will need to produce evidence of the alleged physical abuse. Evidence of the alleged physical abuse can take a variety of different forms, and you should have a conversation with your lawyer about what types of evidence you might have at your disposal to help bolster your case. For example, some good forms of evidence of physical cruelty in the relationship can include:

  • Personal Testimony- The victim can testify to the type of treatment he or she received from the abusive spouse.
  • Eyewitness Testimony- Neighbors or family friends can testify as to what they saw or heard. Even if they did not see the violence or abuse take place, they can testify to the presence of new injuries on the victim, or can testify to the victim's level of stress when talking about or dreading going home to his or her abuser.
  • 911 Recordings- In some cases, calls are made to 911. These calls are recorded as a matter of protocol. The recordings can be brought in as evidence of instances of abuse or domestic violence.
  • Police Reports- Often in domestic violence cases, the police will have been called. The police will produce a report detailing who called, what was called about and will report on their investigation findings.
  • Photographs of Injuries- Photographic evidence of injuries can be very helpful in establishing physical cruelty in a relationship.

The Impact of Physical Cruelty On A Divorce

If physical cruelty is sufficiently established during the divorce proceedings, the result will have an impact on other aspects of the divorce. For instance, a finding of physical abuse in the marriage can prompt the family court to award a larger share of the marital assets to the victim spouse, or a larger alimony award. In terms of child custody , the abusive parent will be unlikely to gain custody of the children, and may have serious restrictions placed on his or her visitation rights.

Contacting a Charleston Divorce Lawyer

If you have been the victim of physical abuse or cruelty in your marriage and you would like to talk to an experienced South Carolina attorney about seeking a divorce, contact the experienced Charleston divorce lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC today. Please get in touch with us by calling 843-323-4341.

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