Restraining Orders in Spartanburg, South Carolina
When married couples go through a divorce or a similarly turbulent time, things can get heated and parties may feel threatened and in danger of being harmed. This also occurs with couples who are cohabitating and one of them turns violent. When this happens, a protective order may be needed to help keep those who feel endangered safe. However, while orders of protection can help provide protective relief to domestic abuse victims, they can also be used to level false accusations against a spouse or partner after the relationship sours.
At The Cate Law Firm, P.A., we understand the need to take swift action when an individual is in fear of harm by someone close to them. Since 1977, we have helped individuals in South Carolina who have been in need of a protective order or needed to defend themselves against one. Our family law attorneys have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we fight hard to protect the rights and interests of each client we serve. Whether you are the victim of domestic abuse or falsely accused of the same, we stand by your side to provide skilled legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time.
Protective Orders in South Carolina
An order of protection is a family court order that directs an individual to refrain from certain prohibited behavior or take certain required actions or be subjected to legal consequences. A protective order is a type of restraining order that is signed by a family court judge and deals specifically with restraining a member of a household (or parent of your child) from taking certain actions. Other types of restraining orders can also be sought to restrain an outside individual who is stalking or harassing you.
If you are seeking a restraining order against a family or household member, or the parent of your child, what you would seek is called an order of protection (protective order). According to South Carolina law, household members are defined as:
- Spouses or former spouses (this includes same-sex couples who are legally married);
- Couples who have a child in common;
- A male and female who are cohabitating or have previously cohabitated (although this has recently been expanded to include same-sex romantic partners who live or have lived together).
Protective orders can be sought to protect an individual from abuse, which is defined as when a family or household member:
- Physically harms or injures an individual or threatens to do so;
- Assaults an individual;
- Commits a sexual criminal offense (as defined by statute) against another family or household member.
Hearings for Protective Orders
In South Carolina, a party may petition for an order of protection but will not receive one (except in rare emergency situations) until the accused is afforded due process in a courtroom and has the opportunity to present a defense.
A hearing is usually set for a person seeking an order of protection (the “petitioner”) very quickly after the petition is filed—sometimes in 24 hours. The accused (the “respondent”) is to be served with notice of the hearing and is allowed to come to the hearing to present evidence on why he/she is not a threat and/or why the protective order shouldn’t be granted.
If granted, protective orders are usually valid for a period of six months to one year. They can be extended past their deadline if it can be shown that the petitioner is still in danger and the order is still necessary for their protection. To extend or change a final order of protection, a Motion to Extend or Motion to Modify can be filed with the court, and another hearing may be requested. If the petitioner has reconciled with the respondent and wants to cancel the protective order, a written request can be filed to dismiss the order on the basis of reconciliation.
How Can a Protective Order Help Victims of Domestic Abuse?
While orders of protection are not a perfect deterrent, they can be used to order the respondent to refrain from harmful behavior and take various actions as directed by the court. The specific forms of relief ordered by the court depend on the circumstances of each individual case.
A temporary protective order can:
- Order the respondent not to threaten or abuse the petitioner;
- Order the respondent to no longer communicate or attempt to communicate with the petitioner;
- Order the respondent to stay away from any place that is requested by the petitioner, such as their home, work, school, or child’s day care center.
In addition to those listed above, in some cases a protective order can:
- Order the respondent to pay temporary support if the petitioner and the accused are legally married and/or they have a child together;
- Award temporary child custody and visitation rights;
- Award temporary possession of a shared residence;
- Provide temporary relief from selling or getting rid of shared income or property;
- Award temporary possession of various types of shared personal property (such as vehicles or pets);
- Order the respondent to pay court costs and attorney fees;
- Grant other requests that the court believes are necessary to keep the petitioner safe.
What Happens if an Individual Violates a Protective Order?
If an alleged abuser violates an order of protection, there are severe legal consequences, which may include:
- A contempt of court finding with fines of up to $1,500 and up to one year in jail;
- A criminal punishment of up to 30 days in jail and up to $200 in fines.
It is important to note that the respondent is solely responsible for following all the terms and conditions of a protective order. The respondent can face legal consequences for violating an order, even if the petitioner initiates contact with them.
Speak with a Compassionate South Carolina Family Law Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic abuse, there is no need to continue living in fear. A protective order can provide the necessary relief to help get your life back on track. On the other hand, if you have been falsely accused of domestic abuse, you need strong legal counsel in your corner to present your side of the story to the court. At the Cate Law Firm, we are skilled and compassionate, and we provide experienced legal guidance to individuals involved with domestic abuse cases. For immediate help with orders of protection in South Carolina, call our office today at (864) 585-4226.