3 Reasons You Should Consider filing for Separate Support and Maintenance rather than Divorce

South Carolina does not recognize a legal separation; however, we do recognize what is known as “separate support and maintenance.” An action for separate support and maintenance reaffirms that the marriage is still in tact but it offers an avenue to seek relief from the Family Court. Many times the sole reason someone chooses to file for separate support and maintenance because they do not have enough proof to prove a ground for divorce.  But there are some other very valid reasons you may choose to seek a decree of separate support and maintenance in lieu of a divorce.

  1. You don’t want to be divorced.  You may have religious beliefs or other reasons for not wanting to be divorced, but you still don’t feel like you can make the marriage work.  In that case you may choose to file for separate support and maintenance to make sure you receive spousal support and get a proper custody order in place.
  2. Social Security Benefits.  I see the confusion on your face.  Federal law states that at the appropriate age a spouse or former spouse can choose to collect the Social Security benefits they are entitled to as a result of their employment history.  But, if you have been married for a period of ten years or more you may elect to receive Social Security benefits at your spouse’s or former spouse’s level. This has no impact on the amount of the benefit they receive.  Essentially, this makes sure that even a stay-at-home parent who never worked during the marriage can receive at least a minimal level of existence in retirement.  Some couples may choose to remain married by filing for separate support and maintenance to make sure they reach this ten year threshold.
  3. Health Care.  Every year health care gets more expensive and obtaining medical insurance coverage for many Americans is extremely taxing on their budget.  You may be lucky enough to be married to someone who works for a great company that still provides excellent health care plans for their employees.  But, a majority of the time a divorce would nix any access you have to your spouses insurance.  But, since you are still married at the conclusion of a separate support and maintenance action you are able to remain on your spouse’s employer-provided insurance policy.


  1. It sounds as thugoh you are trying to do something that you shouldn’t be doing Recently, I went through a divorce and my property that I was raised on 40+ years in the family, I had to buy my X out of. California being a community property estate, she was only allowed 50% of the improvements made during the marriage and the increase (if there were any) in appreciation. In my case, I had to re-fi to pay her off a whopping $ 128,500. Now my property is close to being under water. To answer your question; Consult a good attorney, this way you will know exactly what you can and can’t do without it costing you more in the end. Good Luck!

Leave a Reply to Asem Cancel reply