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Law Enforcement and Safety

Orders of Protection

A court can order either a temporary or final order of protection to limit the behavior of someone who harms or threatens to harm another person.

What is emergency protection?

University of South Carolina students, faculty or staff: If you believe you are in imminent danger, you can request an emergency hearing when filing to go before a judge within 24 hours. If you can prove you're in immediate danger, the judge may grant a temporary order of protection until your full hearing.

How to File for an Order

For you to file for an order of protection, your abuser must be a spouse, ex-spouse, someone with whom you share a child or a live-in partner of the opposite sex (current or previous). 

If your relationship with your abuser doesn't fit the legal definition for an order of protection, consider filing a restraining order instead.

Step One: Fill out the forms.
Get the forms from the courthouse. You can get help from the clerk of court, an attorney or a domestic violence advocate. 

Step Two: File for the order.
Give your completed forms to the clerk. There should be no filing fees. Bring a valid ID and information about your abuser: photo, current address, phone numbers, license plate number and any history of violence, drugs or gun ownership.

What Happens After You File

  1. The perpetrator will be served with your complaint and a hearing date will be set.
    The date will be set about 15 days from the date your paperwork was filed. The defendant MUST be served before the hearing can take place.
  2. You and the defendant will be able to testify at the hearing.
    The hearing will take place before a judge. You and the defendant will testify. You must prove the defendant has abused you and/or your children and that you need protection. The judge will decide whether to file an order of protection or not.
  3. You must go to the hearing. If you skip the hearing, the order you have requested will expire and you will have to file new paperwork.
  4. If you need changes to your order of protection...
    Go to the clerk of court and request a motion to modify the form. Bring  your existing order.
  5. If you move out of South Carolina...
    Call the county clerk of court where the order was issued to see how your order will be affected. Also call a domestic violence agency in the area you're moving to ask how the state treats out-of-state orders of protection. 

Temporary v. Final Orders

A temporary order of protection can order the abuser to stop threatening or abusing you, stop contact with you, and order them to stay away from places you request such as schools, work or a child's daycare. 

A final order of protection provides the same protections as a temporary order and also

  • Awards temporary custody and visitation rights of your children.
  • Orders the abuser to pay temporary support for you and/or your child. 
  • Grants you temporary possession of a shared residence.
  • Forbids the abuser from selling or destroying shared property or assets. 
  • Determines who gets temporary possession of personal property. 


Talk to Someone

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