What are special hearings in South Carolina, and how do you go about getting one?

If you have an urgent issue, such as spousal support, child support, an endangered child, or the need for an Order of Protection, you need a special hearing. A South Carolina temporary hearings lawyer may be able to help you identify what your options are and help you to request a special hearing where the family court can step in and help you in a more timely manner.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The difference between temporary, expedited, and emergency hearings;
  • How to file for emergency custody in South Carolina;
  • When you should ask the family court for emergency custody; and
  • How long it will take to get an emergency custody hearing in the family court.

South Carolina Special Hearings

First, let’s take a moment to consider some of the different types of hearings you can request in the family court and the purpose of each – temporary hearings, expedited hearings, and emergency hearings (where you can ask the court for emergency custody).

Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear domestic issues in South Carolina. You can’t just try a different court.

Types of Special Hearings: Temporary, Expedited, and Emergency Hearings

Temporary Hearings

A “temporary hearing” is often requested after a divorce or custody complaint is filed so the court can resolve important issues that just can’t wait until the final divorce hearing – for example, spousal support, child support, child custody, child visitation, or which spouse will keep the family home and vehicles.

In some cases, however, a temporary hearing is not fast enough – for example, if a child is in danger and you need to seek emergency custody from the court.

Issues exclusive to the family court include:

  • Divorce,
  • Alimony,
  • Child custody and visitation,
  • Child support,
  • The division of marital property, and
  • Adoptions.

In most situations, these issues can’t wait for a final divorce hearing. Your attorney can request a “temporary hearing” to address these disputes, like how much child support is to be paid, which parent will have primary custody of the children, or who can continue living in the family home while your divorce is pending.

Sometimes, however, a temporary hearing can’t be scheduled fast enough. If irreparable harm would occur if the matter isn’t addressed in court more quickly, your attorney can request an expedited or emergency hearing that will get you into a courtroom and before a judge more quickly.

Expedited Hearings

An expedited hearing allows the parties to “cut to the front of the line” when it is necessary to resolve procedural issues before another hearing date that has already been scheduled.

For example, an expedited hearing may be appropriate when one party needs a continuance and the other side will not consent, when one side intends to challenge jurisdiction (and does not want to spend time and their client’s money preparing for a hearing that may not happen because there is no jurisdiction), or when one side needs additional information or discovery to fully prepare for the previously scheduled hearing date.

Emergency Hearings

If you need to ask the family court for emergency custody of a child, you will request an emergency hearing.

Emergency hearings are reserved for “true emergencies” where irreparable harm may be done if the court does not act swiftly, like:

  • An endangered child who needs to be removed from the home immediately,
  • Situations where a spouse is liquidating or concealing their assets in a divorce case, or
  • A domestic violence victim needs to petition the family court for an Order of Protection.

How to File for Emergency Custody in South Carolina

To file for emergency custody in South Carolina, you or your attorney will file a “Motion for Emergency Temporary Relief” that includes an explanation and documentation of why emergency custody is needed.

A family court judge will see your motion and, based on the documentation you provided, decide whether an emergency custody hearing is necessary.

What is an Emergency Custody Hearing?

You can file a motion asking the family court for emergency custody of a child when the child is in danger or exposed to dangerous behaviors in their home. For example, emergency custody may be justified when:

  • The child is being neglected,
  • The child is being physically or sexually abused,
  • The child is being exposed to drug or alcohol abuse,
  • There is domestic violence in the home,
  • The parent has been convicted of a crime or is engaging in criminal activity,
  • There are visitors to the home that may be a danger to the child, like sex offenders, or
  • The parent is incapacitated or incapable of caring for the child due to physical or mental illness.

At the hearing, the family court can grant temporary custody of a minor child to the person who is asking for emergency custody (or the court could temporarily place the child in DSS custody if necessary), and the court can also grant temporary child support, alimony, or use of the marital home or other property necessary for the care of the child.

Where are Emergency Custody Hearings Held?

The South Carolina Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction to handle all domestic matters in South Carolina – this includes emergency custody hearings as well as divorces, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, property disputes between spouses, name changes, termination of parental rights, and adoptions.

If you have any questions about where to file the emergency custody hearing request, what documentation to include, or how to present the case to the family court, contact a South Carolina emergency custody hearing lawyer immediately and ask for help.

How Long Does It Take to Get Emergency Custody in South Carolina?

If the family court decides that an emergency custody hearing is warranted, they will schedule the hearing as swiftly as possible.

There is no need to give notice to the other side, and an emergency custody hearing request can be filed and argued ex parte although the other side might be able to challenge the emergency custody order at a later hearing.

Questions About Temporary, Expedited & Emergency Hearings in South Carolina?

If you need to ask the court for a hearing sooner rather than later, contact a Charleston, South Carolina special hearings attorney immediately who can help you to gather the documentation you will need, file the hearing request, and present your case to the family court.

Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.

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