What are Family Court Orders and How Are They Made in South Carolina?

If you’re involved in a divorce or custody dispute in South Carolina, court orders are the means by which a judge’s decisions become legally-binding instructions, and through which penalties against disobeying parties can be enforced. Read on to learn about court orders and how they are created. In a future post, we will discuss how court orders can be enforced, and the consequences that someone violating an order might face.

What is a court order?

A court order is essentially the final written version of a judge’s decision. Once a decision is written and entered, it essentially becomes a set of rules the parties must follow. Orders can be entered on a broad range of topics, such as how much a spouse is required to pay in alimony or child support, the parents’ custodial visitation schedule, or how the couple’s marital assets will be divided.

Orders can be either temporary or final. Temporary orders can be issued by the court on as little as five (business) days’ notice. Since some family law issues require immediate attention and can’t be set aside until parties go trial, temporary orders are intended to offer a short-term solution to an issue that will be addressed more fully in the future. A judge might use a temporary order to grant child support during a child custody dispute, or child visitation rights during a divorce trial. Temporary orders will expire upon the entry of a final order in the same case, or if too much time passes after the filing of an action without a final hearing being requested. Final orders consist of the court’s permanent and lasting resolution of a dispute.  Property division and the bar of alimony cannot usually be changed after a final order is issued.  Child-related provisions like custody, visitation, and child support, as well as alimony increases or reductions, may be changed but not without bringing a new action and showing a substantial change in circumstances. 

How are court orders created?

Court orders can be created in a couple different ways. One way is by agreement. If you and your former spouse or partner have, for example, negotiated and reached a visitation schedule, then your attorney can create a written version of that agreement and request that the court approve it and enter it as an order. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the agreement represents the parties’ wishes, is fair, and is in the best interests of any children before entering the agreement as an order. This will make your voluntary agreement legally binding. The other way orders are created is through a contested hearing or trial, where the judge will hear evidence presented by both parties and make his or her own decision about how the conflict should be resolved, which will be contained in an order.

If you are in need of knowledgeable, compassionate, and determined legal help with a South Carolina family law issue, such as a divorce, separation, or custody dispute, contact the Spartanburg family law attorneys at tThe Cate Law Firm for a consultation, at 864-585-4226.

Contact Form Tab