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    December 20, 2015

    Protecting Yourself Against a Potentially Violent Spouse, Partner, or Family Member

    upstate south carolina divorce lawyer

    Preventing domestic violence is a major issue throughout the United States. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement and advocacy groups and shelters, South Carolina continues to be one of the top ten states in the nation in terms of domestic violence and abuse rates, and it is a spot the Palmetto State has held for over 17 years. In the fight to prevent violence from happening in the home or elsewhere, an order of protection or a restraining order are both a strong first defense. While an order of protection is obtained through the civil court system and a restraining order is obtained through magistrates court, both can be an effective form of preemptive strike in preventing violence before it occurs.   

    Getting an Order of Protection

    Under the South Carolina Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, a petition for an order of Protection can be filed with the Family Court in cases where a person needs protection from the abuse of a spouse or a family member who has resided in the home. The petition can be filed by the person alleging abuse, or on the behalf of a minor child. The petition can be filed prior to any other types of court actions, or as part of a pending divorce or with an order for separate maintenance and support in cases establishing a marital separation. Within 24 hours of filing and serving the petition, a hearing will be held in which a judge will determine whether an order should be issued. In order to get a South Carolina order of protection granted, the person filing it must show there is a clear and present danger of physical abuse from which they need to be protected. An order of protection will prevent an alleged abuser from doing the following:

    • From abusing, threatening to abuse, or sexually molesting the person named in the petition; and
    • From communicating or attempting to communicate the person named in the petition at home, work, school, or any other location the court orders, such as at a friend or family members home.

    If the abuser violates the order of protection, they will be facing 30 days jail time as well as fines and criminal charges. The order is valid up to a year, and may also include any orders made by the judge at the hearing relating to child custody and support.

    Getting a Restraining Order

    A restraining order is different from an order of protection in that it is issued through the Magistrates Court, and deals with harassment and stalking rather than physical abuse. To get a restraining order in South Carolina, a complaint is filed with the Magistrate’s office, and a hearing is generally scheduled within 15 days. If the person filing the complaint can show by a preponderance of evidence that harassment and stalking have occurred, an order will be issued similar to that in an order for protection. The order will prevent the offending party from threatening, harassing or in any way contacting the person listed on the restraining order, and will also forbid them from appearing at their home, place of employment or education, or any other location. This order is valid for up to a year after it has been issued, and can be extended if needed.

    Contact an Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorney

    At the Law Firm of Lauren M. Taylor, we help clients protect themselves in potentially abusive situations. If you are involved need help in getting an order of protection or a restraining order, contact an experienced South Carolina family law attorney immediately of Lauren Taylor Law. A court order can provide the legal protections you need to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Serving the entire upstate area, contact our office today at (864) 326-2888.