Can I sue for palimony in South Carolina?

Full Question:

Can I sue for palimony in South Carolina?
05/20/2017   |   Category: Divorce ยป Palimony   |   State: South Carolina   |   #37489

Answer:

South Carolina does not recognize palimony. It is one of the States that still recongnizes Common Law Marriages so if you can provide a Common Law Marriage you can sue for alimony in a divorce action.

Common Law Marriages can be established based on facts of the case.
 
The party claiming a common-law marriage must prove the existence of the marriage by a preponderance of the evidence. See, e.g., Kirby v. Kirby, 270 S.C. 137, 140, 241 S.E.2d 415, 416 (1978); Ex Parte Blizzard, 185 S.C. 131, 133, [330 S.C. 367] 193 S.E. 633, 634 (1937). There is a strong presumption in favor of marriage by cohabitation, apparently matrimonial, coupled with social acceptance over a long period of time. See, e.g., Jeanes v. Jeanes, 255 S.C. 161, 166, 177 S.E.2d 537, 539 (1970); Owens v. Owens, 320 S.C. 543, 545, 466 S.E.2d 373, 375 (Ct.App.1996).

In South Carolina, a common-law marriage exists if the parties intend to enter into a marriage contract. Blizzard, 185 S.C. at 133, 193 S.E. at 634; accord Johnson v. Johnson, 235 S.C. 542, 550, 112 S.E.2d 647, 651 (1960) ("It is essential to a common law marriage that there shall be a mutual agreement between the parties to assume toward each other the relation of husband and wife. Cohabitation without such an agreement does not constitute marriage."); Rodgers v. Herron, 226 S.C. 317, 335, 85 S.E.2d 104, 113 (1954) (A common law marriage "depends upon facts and circumstances evidencing a mutual agreement to live together as husband and wife, and not in concubinage."); Owens, 320 S.C. at 545, 466 S.E.2d at 375 ("A valid common-law marriage requires that the facts and circumstances show an intention on the part of both parties to enter into a marriage contract."); see also 52 Am.Jur.2d Marriage § 42 (1970) ("At common law no formal ceremony is essential to a valid marriage,
and an agreement between the parties per verba de praesenti--that is, by words of the present tense, or a present agreement--to be husband and wife constitutes a valid marriage; no other ceremony is necessary.")

Direct evidence of the requisite intent, such as a public declaration that the couple is entering into a contract of marriage, however, may not be readily available. See Johnson, 235 S.C. at 551, 112 S.E.2d at 652 (The facts "evidencing a mutual agreement to live together as husband and wife, and not in concubinage ... are often difficult of ascertainment [330 S.C. 368] where the intent of the parties has not been formally and publicly declared.") (citation omitted). Thus, the existence of a common-law marriage frequently is proved by circumstantial evidence.

Reference: Barker v. Baker, 330 S.C. 361, 499 S.E.2d 503 (1998), Court of Appeals of South CarolinaMarch 9, 1998, 499 S.E.2d 503 330 S.C. 361