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Dedicated Mount Pleasant Separation Lawyers Protect Your Interests

Experienced attorneys help couples resolve custody, support and property issues

South Carolina does not recognize legal separation as a status the same way some other states do. Here, you are either divorced or married to your spouse, even if you no longer live together. However, if you no longer wish to share a home with your spouse, but still depend on him or her for support, you can obtain an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support from the family court. This order establishes legally binding obligations regarding finances and parenting to protect each spouse’s rights while they are living apart. This order is essential if you plan to seek a no-fault divorce, but is also useful if you eventually reconcile. An attorney at Barker Family Law can explain your rights and craft a request for an order that fits your circumstances. For more than 25 years, our family law attorneys have successfully counseled clients on how to protect their rights while living separately.

Benefits of an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support

An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support is the first step in many divorces. To obtain the order, you and your spouse must already be living apart. As with divorce, you can obtain an order by reaching an agreement with your spouse or through an adversarial court proceeding. Many of our clients are able to achieve consensus through negotiations or mediation. The spouses then present their agreement to the court for approval, and the court issues an order that makes the agreement legally enforceable. If you cannot reach a comprehensive agreement, you must ask the court to decide any outstanding issues.

Choosing not to establish separation terms can be costly

Many couples ask, “Why not just wait until the divorce is final?” Unfortunately, a lot can happen to impact your financial situation during that time, particularly if you are waiting the mandatory year for a no-fault divorce. Your spouse could increase your marital debt, you and your child may need financial support, or your spouse could sell your assets and clean out your joint bank account. When children are involved, the parent who has custody could prevent their spouse from visiting, then later accuse the other parent of showing no interest in the kids during the separation, hurting any chances for joint custody. For financial security and to safeguard the loving relationship you have with your children, you must act to protect your rights.

The cost of obtaining an order is miniscule when compared to the cost of divorce, and the protections you get are well worth the investment.

Protecting rights and assets during separation

An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support can address a range of issues including:

  • Asset and property division
  • Payment of marital debts
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Who remains in the home
  • Who pays the mortgage and other home expenses
  • Transferring personal property titles to one spouse or the other
  • Healthcare and other insurance

At every stage of the separation process, our family law attorneys offer knowledgeable counsel on sensitive matters to help you avoid unnecessary turmoil.

The difference between separation and divorce

As South Carolina does not permit legal separation, even though you are living apart and have a binding agreement, you are still married until your divorce is finalized. No specific state law prohibits separated persons from dating, but you run the risk of being accused of adultery in a subsequent divorce filing. In addition to possible harm to your reputation, this type of accusation might affect the alimony or property division terms of your divorce.

Contact a Mount Pleasant attorney for a consultation on separation matters

Barker Family Law in Mount Pleasant offers trustworthy advice on separation orders to clients in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties. Call us at 843-640-0532 or contact us online to schedule a  consultation with a South Carolina family law attorney who understands how to protect your interests in a separation. Our office is conveniently located at 1051 Chuck Dawley Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.

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Our Office
  • Mount Pleasant Office
    1051 Chuck Dawley Boulevard
    Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464
    Phone: 843-640-0532
    Fax: 843-310-1031
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Douglas Barker has received the 2015 Client Distinction Award from Martindale-Hubbell. This award is given only to lawyers who earn a Client Review Rating Score of 4.0 or higher (on a scale of 1-5). Less than 1% of the 900,000+ attorneys listed on and earn this honor! Mr. Barker's rating actually exceeds the required 4.0, coming in at 5.0 out of 5.0.
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