SC: Domestic Violence

South Carolina’s Protection from Domestic Abuse Act (S.C. Code Ann. 20-4-10 et seq.) gives the family court the special authority to intervene in cases with allegations of domestic violence between “household members.” This protects wives, husbands, former spouses, persons who have a child in common, a male and female who are cohabitating or formerly cohabitated, children, and other close relatives who are victims of physical harm, threats of physical harm, or criminal sexual conduct.

Victims of domestic violence should seek an order of protection from family court.  Once a petition for an order of protection is filed, it will be served upon the alleged offender and the court will schedule a hearing where live testimony of witnesses can be taken. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence, the court can provide some or all of the following relief:

  • Temporary custody of any minor children
  • A no-contact order prohibiting contact with any minor children
  • Temporary child support
  • Visitation rights
  • For the alleged abuser to pay the victim’s attorney fees
  • Possession of the residence (this can be true even in situations where parties are not married, and the residence is only in the alleged offender’s name)
  • Temporary possession of any personal property (i.e. clothing and medication)
  • A restraining order prohibiting the disposal of shared property or access to joint bank accounts
  • Temporary alimony or separate support and maintenance to the victim

One important thing to note is the “no contact provision” that will be issued by the family court when it grants any order of protection. Violation of such a “no contact” provision is a separate criminal offense and is very different than a “no contact” provision that may be imposed by the bond court after a CVD arrest. Further, it is entered into the police computer systems.

An order for protection generally remains in place for six months to one year. You do not have to file for divorce to get a six-month protective order. However, the parts of the order about support, custody, visitation, and personal property only last 60 days. Therefore, if you do not file for divorce or legal separation, you will have to renew your protective order. Protective orders also expire if either of the parties file a private family court action and receive either an order granting temporary relief or a final order.

If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship and/or fear for your child’s safety, our experienced South Carolina attorneys at Touchstone Family Law can help seek the relief you need from the family court.

It is also very important if you are a loved one has received notice of the filing of an order of protection affecting your interests that you consult with one of one of our experienced South Carolina attorneys knowledgeable in Family Court law and procedure to protect your rights.