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Información Legal: Carolina del Sur

Restraining Orders

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Actualizada: 
8 de diciembre de 2020

What is the legal definition of abuse in South Carolina?

This section defines abuse for the purposes of getting an order of protection.

South Carolina law defines abuse as when a “family or household member”:

  • physically harms you or threatens to do so;
  • physically injures you;
  • assaults you; or
  • rapes you or commits another sexual criminal offense against you.1

A family or household member is defined as:

  • a spouse or ex-spouse;
  • someone who you have a child in common with; or
  • someone who you live(d) with.2

Note: If the acts of the abuser do not fit in this definition, or if you don’t have the required relationship with the abuser, you may still be eligible for a restraining order against stalking or harassment. See our Restraining Orders Against Stalking or Harassment page for more information.

1 S.C. Code § 20-4-20(a)
2 S.C. Code § 20-4-20(b); Jane Doe v. State of South Carolina, 421 S.C. 490, 808 S.E.2d 807 (2017)

What types of orders of protection are there? How long do they last?

In South Carolina, there are temporary orders of protection and final orders of protection.

Temporary orders of protection are issued when a judge believes you you are in immediate danger of abuse. A judge will hold a court hearing before you can get a temporary order, but the abuser will not be present at this hearing. The judge will hold the hearing within 24 hours of you filing your petition. The temporary order is generally in effect for 15 days after service of the order at which point a full court hearing will be held for a final order of protection.1 However, the judge may extend the temporary order if your full court hearing is postponed.

Final orders of protection are issued only after a full court hearing, where both you and the abuser have a chance to be present and present both your sides of the story. Final orders of protection last for between six months and one year.2 You may ask to have it extended. See How do I extend, change, or cancel my order of protection? for more information.

There is a different type of order for victims of stalking or harassment. For more information, see our Restraining Orders Against Stalking or Harassment page.

1 See Petition for Order of Protection
2 S.C. Code § 20-4-70(a)

What protections can I get in an order of protection?

A temporary order of protection can:

  • order the abuser not to abuse you or threaten to abuse you;
  • order the abuser not to communicate with you or try to communicate with you; and
  • order the abuser to stay away from any place you request including your school, home, child’s day care, or workplace.1

A final order of protection can:

  • order all of the relief stated above; and
  • order the following additional terms:
    • award temporary custody and visitation rights of your children;
    • order your abuser to pay temporary financial support for you and/or your child if you are married or s/he is the legal parent of the child;
    • grant temporary possession of your shared residence even if the respondent owns the home or is the only one on the lease – however, this can only be ordered if the respondent has a legal duty to support you or your children, for example, as your spouse or your child’s other parent;
    • forbid the abuser from selling or getting rid of income, homes, or property you share;
    • order who will get temporary possession of the personal property of the parties, including pets;
    • order the abuser not to harm or harass any pet owned or kept by you, any family member named in the order, or the abuser;
    • order law enforcement to help you remove personal property from the home if the respondent will be staying in the home and you will be leaving it;
    • order the abuser to pay for court costs and your attorney’s fees; and
    • order anything else you ask for that the judge thinks is necessary to keep you safe.2

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

Note: Although the order of protection laws do not specifically say that a judge can prohibit firearm possession as part of your order of protection, South Carolina’s gun laws say that for firearm possession to be illegal, the family court judge must order that the respondent is “prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition.”.3 There are also additional “findings” that the judge must make, as explained on our South Carolina State Gun Laws page. Be sure to specifically ask the judge to include this language in your order if the abuser has a firearm.

1 S.C. Code § 20-4-60(A)
2 S.C. Code § 20-4-60(C)
3 S.C. Code § 16-25-30(A)(4)

In which county can I file for an order of protection?

You can file a petition in any of the following counties:

  • the county where you live;
  • the county where you are currently in shelter, assuming that you are a state resident;
  • the county where the abuser lives;
  • the county where you and the abuser last lived together; or
  • the county where the abuse took place.1

1 S.C. Code § 20-4-30(A)-(C)

Si el agresor vive en otro estado, ¿puedo conseguir una orden en su contra?

Si el/la agresor/a vive en un estado diferente al suyo, el/la juez/a podría no tener “jurisdicción personal” (poder) sobre ese/a agresor/a. Esto significa que es posible que el tribunal no pueda otorgar una orden en contra de él/ella.

Hay algunas formas en las que una corte puede tener jurisdicción personal sobre un/a agresor/a que es de otro estado:

  1. El/la agresor/a tiene una conexión sustancial a su estado. Quizás el/la agresor/a viaja regularmente a su estado para visitarlo/a, por negocios, para ver la familia extendida, o el/la agresor/a vivía en su estado y huyó recientemente.
  2. Uno de los actos de maltrato “ocurrió” en su estado. Quizás el/la agresor/a le envía mensajes amenazantes o le hace llamadas acosadoras desde otro estado pero usted lee los mensajes o contesta las llamadas mientras usted está en su estado. El/la juez/a puede decidir que el maltrato “ocurrió” mientras estaba en su estado. También puede ser posible que el/la agresor/a estaba en su estado cuando le maltrató pero desde entonces se fue del estado.
  3. Otra forma para que la corte adquiera jurisdicción es si usted presenta su petición en el estado donde usted está, y el/la agresor/a recibe notificación de la petición de la corte mientras él/ella está en ese estado.

Sin embargo, aunque nada de esto aplique a su situación, eso no necesariamente significa que usted no pueda conseguir una orden. A usted le pueden dar una orden por consentimiento o el/la juez/a puede encontrar otras circunstancias que permitan que la orden sea dada. Puede leer más sobre jurisdicción personal en nuestra sección de Asuntos Básicos del Sistema Judicial - Jurisdicción Personal.

Nota: Si el/la juez/a de su estado se niega a dar una orden, usted puede pedir una orden en la corte del estado donde vive el/la agresor/a. Sin embargo, recuerde que es probable que usted necesite presentar la petición en persona y asistir a varias citas en la corte, lo cual podría ser difícil si el estado de el/la agresor/a es lejos.