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Friday
Mar292019

S.C. Bill Would Expand Grounds for Divorce

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation that would expand the legal reasons someone can seek a divorce.

The bill, which was approved Thursday by a House subcommittee, adds the use of illegal or illicit drugs as well as willful mistreatment that could destroy the mental or physical well-being, happiness, and welfare of a spouse and make living together unsafe or intolerable.

Under current law, grounds for divorce in South Carolina include adultery, one year of continuous separation or desertion, habitual drunkenness or narcotic use, and physical cruelty.

Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, cosponsor of the bill , said by recognizing that physical and mental cruelty is another grounds for divorce, the state would allow people to file for divorce and leave a spouse within a shorter period of time.

"There are situations where there is not necessarily physical abuse but there's emotional abuse and that is something that I think we've really come to recognize as a society," Powers Norrell said. "There's nothing in our law that shortens the wait period for a divorce when you have a situation of emotional abuse or just where you can't stay together anymore."

The Lancaster Democrat said there are inexcusable circumstances that warrant someone getting out of a relationship quicker.

In South Carolina, a fault-based divorce allows people to get a divorce within at least three months of applying, Norrell said. By changing the law to allow consideration of the mental well-being of a spouse, it would help expedite getting out of a bad situation, she said.

"There are a lot of ways to be cruel that don't just involve physical contact, and I strongly believe that people should be able to get a divorce on those grounds as well as the other grounds we have in South Carolina for divorce," Norrell said.

The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.

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