What is Temporary Relief in South Carolina?
Temporary relief is an interim, or “temporary,” order from the court that addresses certain immediate circumstances until a more formal and permanent ruling can be reached. In family court cases, temporary hearings are often useful for addressing disputes about things such as visitation schedules, who gets to live in the marital home on a temporary basis, payment of ongoing bills, and financial support.
Often, for example, the court will give one party or another the exclusive use of certain real or personal property. Responsibility for ongoing payment of that property will usually also be addressed. The court might also direct that one or both parties refrain from taking any measures which would impact marital assets. Finally, the court can order one party to pay another temporary attorney fees or “suit money” in an effort to level the legal playing field in a family law dispute where there’s a vast disparity in income between parties.
Temporary Orders for Child Custody and Support
Many requests for temporary relief in family law cases deal with child custody and support issues. Often, couples stay in unhealthy relationships for fear that they won’t be able to survive and support their children after separation, unaware that there are legal avenues available to help.
When a couple can’t agree on finances or custody upon separation, a court might impose a temporary order maintaining the “status quo” of the parents’ current support and contact with their children, or they may change that arrangement entirely, depending on what they believe is in the child(ren)’s best interest. Another issue deals with legal decision making- will one parent have sole custody, or will the parties share joint custody and both be involved in that decision making process? In those cases, often the question the court decides at a temporary hearing is which parent will be designated as the joint primary custodian.
How to Request Temporary Relief
In South Carolina family law cases, most initial hearings are for temporary relief purposes. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an initial agreement on such things as finances, support, and child custody, you will probably need to temporarily resolve those issues through court. A final ruling will take place when your divorce, separation, or custody case becomes final.
Requesting temporary relief from the court requires some paperwork, because the court wants proof to back up your claims and requests. First, pleadings are filed. Then, temporary motion packets are submitted and arguments are made to the court at a temporary hearing. In an emergency situation, special pleadings are filed and a request can be made for an emergency hearing to take place, which expedites the hearing process where, i.e., a child’s safety is at risk.
The forms submitted to the court explain the exact type of temporary relief you are requesting as well as the general facts that support your request.
What Happens at a Temporary Hearing in South Carolina?
If you file an emergency motion for temporary relief, you may be able to receive a hearing in just a few days. Otherwise, you will likely wait several weeks for a hearing. When you attend a hearing, expect that the process will be brief (30 minutes or less).
Your hearing will take place in a courtroom with a judge. Under South Carolina Family Court Rule 21 (b), evidence submitted for temporary hearings is limited to pleadings, affidavits, and financial declarations. The judge therefore accepts written submissions by both sides (which are governed by certain parameters per the family court rules). Testimony is not usually heard, but the judge may hear argument from each party’s attorney based on their written submissions. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced family law attorney by your side, so they can prepare the submissions and temporary hearing argument in a way that gives you the best possible chance of attaining the relief you’re requesting.
The judge will then review the details of your request as well as the submitted evidence. If the request is financial in nature, they will consider the circumstances of both sides and the state guidelines before ruling on temporary spousal support or child support.
At the end of the temporary hearing, the judge may make their ruling on the spot. If they do, you will walk away knowing what the temporary “ground rules” will be. Otherwise, you might have to wait several days for the judge to make a determination. Once you have an Order, you’ll be required to follow its stipulations until you receive a Final Judgment on your case.
Get Help with Your South Carolina Family Law Matter
If you need assistance with obtaining a temporary order, divorce, or other family law matter in South Carolina, contact The Cate Law Firm in Spartanburg to speak with an experienced and compassionate South Carolina family law attorney. Contact us online or call (864) 585-4226 to schedule an appointment.