You've separated from your spouse, and you know that you may be headed for a divorce.
Although you've scheduled a meeting with your attorney on the Axelrod team, you may be feeling overwhelmed by questions about who will live in the family home, custody of your children, visitation, and other pressing issues that need to be resolved quickly.
You know that these questions are not going to wait for a final divorce hearing - is there a way to resolve them immediately? Can you get a temporary hearing in SC family court, how long will that take, and what is the process for a temporary hearing in SC?
Below, I'll discuss how the family court can help to settle common issues temporarily while your divorce action is pending, what happens at a temporary hearing in SC, and how to prepare for your temporary hearing.
What is a Temporary Hearing in SC Family Court?
A temporary hearing in SC is usually your first contact with the court after you begin your divorce proceedings.
In many SC divorce cases, there are critical issues that must be resolved immediately. Depending on your situation, they might include:
- Child custody and visitation;
- Child support;
- Who stays in the family home and who uses which vehicles;
- Restraining orders; and
- Attorney fees and costs.
Whenever possible, these issues are negotiated by your attorney - they can then be incorporated into a separation agreement that can later be approved by the court.
When they can't be negotiated, however, we may need the court to step in quickly to resolve the issues peacefully, to protect your financial interests, or to ensure the safety of yourself and your children.
How Do I Get a Temporary Hearing in SC?
Your Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer at Axelrod and Associates will prepare the paperwork, or pleadings, to request temporary relief from the court.
In the pleadings, we tell the court exactly what we are asking for and why - the pleadings need to include enough facts to support our requests. In most cases, it will take several weeks for the hearing to be scheduled, during which time we will help you to put together the evidence that you will need to present at the temporary hearing.
What Happens at a Temporary Hearing in SC?
Temporary hearings in SC are not like a trial. In most cases, there will not be any live witness testimony. The hearing is limited to less than 30 minutes (15 in most cases), and the court will rely on the written documents that your attorney files and your attorney's arguments to the court during the hearing.
At the hearing, we will have to prove your claims and demonstrate to the court why you are entitled to the relief we are requesting.
The evidence that we can present to the court is limited to:
- Your pleadings;
- Financial declarations from both sides;
- Affidavits from you or your witnesses; and
- Attachments or exhibits that support the testimony contained in your affidavits.
Because the amount of time at your temporary hearing is extremely limited and we ordinarily cannot call witnesses, it is critical that your pleadings, documentation, and affidavits are carefully prepared and presented to factually and legally support your requests to the court.
Can I Change the Court's Order from a Temporary Hearing?
The court's temporary order is just that - temporary.
The conditions ordered in the temporary hearing may or may not change in your final divorce decree. Your final divorce decree may be decided:
- After a trial where the family court hears the issues and evidence from both sides; or
- By incorporating the temporary order or separation agreement into the final divorce decree if both sides agree.
In most cases, the conditions of the temporary order will remain in place until the final divorce hearing. But we can seek a modification of the court's order when it is necessary because of a change in circumstances.
How Do I Prepare for a Temporary Hearing in SC Family Court?
Your attorney will help you to gather the evidence and materials that you will need for your temporary hearing.
Your affidavits and other documents that your attorney will present to the court must be carefully tailored to support your requests for relief by:
- Ensuring that they contain only truthful statements;
- Including facts that will persuade the court while leaving out information that is not relevant to your claims; and
- Keeping in mind SC law divorce laws and caselaw that the court will apply to the facts that we present at your temporary hearing.
Your attorney will need to review all documents well in advance of the hearing date, and your attorney will need to assist your witnesses in preparing their affidavits to ensure they are formatted correctly and that they contain relevant, helpful information that will be persuasive to the judge who hears your case.
If you are considering separation or divorce from your spouse, you may have issues that will need to be resolved quickly in a temporary hearing.
Talk to your Myrtle Beach divorce attorney on the Axelrod team as soon as possible. We can help you to protect your financial interests, your home, and your children with a separation agreement or by requesting a temporary hearing with the family court.