If you are in a pending family court action, you are likely to have a temporary hearing. Whether it is a divorce, custody, child support, visitation, alimony, or modification case, a temporary hearing is especially important. The order that issues from the hearing may be in effect for weeks or months. The documents filed at a temporary hearing may be used as evidence in the case. An example is financial declaration. Preparation is key. Even if you are self-represented, you need to understand the purpose of a temporary hearing and what to expect.
- WHAT IT IS:
One initiates a case in family court by the filing of a summons and complaint. The complaint establishes jurisdiction and venue and sets forth what you are asking the court to do. If you need the court to issue an order to address financial issues and/or child related issues, one files a Notice of Motion and Motion for Temporary Relief.
The motion requests the court to set a time and date for a Temporary Hearing to ask the court to address all of the temporary issues in your case. These issues include things such as:
- Who will stay in the house?
- Who will pay the bills?
- Who will have custody of the children and what visitation will be for the non-custodial parent?
- What will child support be?
- Who will receive alimony?
- Who will maintain health insurance?
- Who will pay the attorney fees?
The issues addressed will depend on the specifics of your case and the above is certainly not an exhaustive list. You may have a need for certain restraining orders or a Guardian ad Litem for minor children, for example.
- WHAT TO EXPECT:
The hearing will take place approximately thirty days from the date one files the motion and hearing request. These hearings are normally set for 15 minutes to 30 minutes unless there are extenuating circumstances that call for more time. In most cases, there is no live testimony at a temporary hearing. You and your witnesses and opposing party will all testify via affidavits. In addition to the affidavits, the court will accept exhibits which are attached to the affidavits such as pay records/stubs, tax returns, school records, photographs, etc.
An affidavit is simply a sworn, written statement setting out the facts for the Court that pertain to the issues being addressed at the hearing. Affidavits are required to be typed, double spaced and have one-inch margins. Affidavits are prepared in advance of the hearing but are presented to the Judge and the opposing party at the time of the hearing itself. At that time, you will receive the opposing party’s affidavit and exhibits as well. There are limits on the number of pages of affidavits that may be submitted during one hearing.
Another important document presented at the Temporary Hearing is the Financial Declaration. This document indicates your income, expenses, assets, and debts. This form is required by the South Carolina Rules of Family Court. This form is a useful tool that the judges use to assist them in determining child support or alimony or attorney fees among other issues. It is important to note that there are other required forms in addition to the financial declaration.
At the conclusion of a temporary hearing, the judge will make a ruling and the ruling is reduced to writing and becomes the Temporary Order. This order stays in place and is the law of your case until a judge issues a different order or your case is dismissed.
Given the importance of a temporary hearing, it is wise to hire an attorney to represent you. Our firm has years of experience representing clients in family court. Please contact Allison Dunham or Jonathan Lounsberry at 864-585-5100 or www.spartanlaw.com if we may assist you.