Temporary Hearings in South Carolina Family Court

Posted by Leslie SarjiJun 21, 20230 Comments

What is a temporary hearing? 

If you're going through a divorce or a custody case in South Carolina, you may be wondering what a temporary hearing is and what it entails. A temporary hearing is a hearing that is usually held at the beginning of a divorce or custody case to get a set of rules in place for people to live by and to resolve issues that need to be resolved while the case is pending. These issues may include child custody, child support, spousal support, possession of the marital home, who will be responsible for paying which bills, who will be running the family business, and other issues related to custody, support, and marital property.

A temporary hearing is usually scheduled early in the case, soon after the filing of the initial paperwork. It is called a "temporary hearing" because the orders entered by the court are only temporary and will remain in effect until the final hearing or trial, unless changed by a later court order.  There may be more than one temporary hearing in a case, but usually, there must be some significant change that did not exist when the first temporary hearing was held in order to go back to a judge for another temporary hearing on the same issues.  

What can I expect during a temporary hearing in Charleston, South Carolina? 

During a temporary hearing, all of the evidence is submitted by way of affidavit.  Both parties have the opportunity to submit affidavits to the Court, and affidavits can come from the parties themselves or other people that have personal knowledge of the issues to be decided.  In some cases, a party may offer an affidavit from the child's therapist or a physician, if such issues are relevant; in other cases, affidavits from members of the community who have knowledge of the parties and their behavior may be relevant.  Sometimes, an affidavit from a private investigator might be offered.  The judge will listen to argument from both parties' attorneys and review the affidavits to make a decision on the temporary issues raised by the parties. Each party will have the opportunity to present evidence by way of affidavits from witnesses to support their requests for temporary relief.  

There is currently a page limit in place for the number of pages you can submit to the Court.  For a 15 minute temporary hearing, there is an 8 page limit (exclusive of exhibits); for a 30 minute hearing, some judges take the position that only 16 pages can be submitted and others take the position that there is an unlimited number of pages that may be submitted.  The Administrative Order that limits the number of pages discusses a page limit only within the context of a 15 minute hearing.  You can find that Order here: https://www.sccourts.org/courtOrders/displayOrder.cfm?orderNo=2012-11-21-04.

You will also be able to submit information in a Proposed Parenting Plan, form SCCA466, as well as on the Temporary Hearing Background Information Form.  That form is the SCCA 459, the Temporary Hearing Background Information Sheet.  Finally, you will need to complete and submit a financial declaration, form SCCA430.  All of these forms can be found on the South Carolina Judicial Department website at https://www.sccourts.org/forms/searchType.cfm.

Why have a temporary hearing in family court? 

The purpose of the temporary hearing is to establish a baseline of rights and obligations between the parties during the pendency of the case. The temporary orders entered by the court will establish the ground rules for how the parties will interact with each other until the final resolution of the case.  Temporary orders can govern issues related to child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support (alimony), use of the marital residence, payment of bills -- even things like which therapist or doctor the children can go to.  Almost any issue that the parties cannot agree upon that is important to them and their family can be raised at a temporary hearing.  

Temporary orders can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case. For example, the temporary custody order will establish the schedule for the children until the final custody order is entered, and it can be difficult to change that the longer the temporary order is in place. The temporary support order will establish the amount of support that one party will receive or pay until the final support order is entered.

Do I need a lawyer at a temporary hearing in family court? 

I believe it is essential to have an experienced family law attorney on your side during a temporary hearing, as the orders entered will affect the outcome of your case. Your attorney will help you prepare for the hearing and present your case effectively to the judge according to the Rules of Evidence. They will also ensure that your rights are protected and that the temporary orders are fair and reasonable.

In conclusion, if you are going through a divorce or custody dispute in South Carolina, a temporary hearing is a crucial step in the process. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side to help you navigate this process and ensure that your rights are protected.

If you have any questions about temporary hearings or any other family law issues, don't hesitate to contact us at Sarji Law Firm. We are here to help you.