The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, here in South Carolina and across the entire United States. While our law offices have made every effort to continue operations as normally as possible under the circumstances, most courts have been closed.
This has been causing chaos and questions for many families with shared child custody, as well as other unforeseen legal issues. One parent told ABC News regarding his ex-spouse, “She basically used this to indefinitely halt my custody with my son. I really don’t have any recourse. What is my recourse if I am not granted an emergency hearing?”
Chief Justice for the State of South Carolina, Donald W. Beatty cancelled all scheduled terms of court from March 23, 2020 through May 1, 2020, stating in a formal order, “IT IS ORDERED that until subsequent order by the Chief Justice, Family Courts statewide shall only hear emergency matters including, but not limited to hearings for the following matters: DSS Emergency Protective Custody, Juvenile Detention – including hearings for juveniles who are being held at evaluation centers, Bench Warrants, and Petitions for Orders of Protection from Domestic Abuse.”
This means emergency, expedited, and other types of family court or domestic violence hearings can still proceed, albeit with restrictions. Emergency trials, when possible, can be held using remote communication technology.
A more recent Tennessee Supreme Court order provides some guidance for trial court proceedings during the pandemic. We thought this would be a good time for a refresher on how we can assist you with emergency hearings, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Emergency and expedited hearings
You and your attorney may file a motion for an expedited or emergency hearing in the following situations – to avoid irreparable harm and you need this relief in less time required than the courts normally take to provide a response. We specify why this hearing is necessary, and ensure all interested parties are properly notified of the request.
Emergency hearings are for just that – true emergencies typically dealing with issues like the immediate safety of a child, or a spouse attempting to transfer marital funds to a private account. An expedited hearing is more of a procedural relief; allowing you to move your hearing request further up the line.
When a family law matter is ongoing, a court may provide a party with temporary relief. The court will first conduct a hearing, after which they’ll issue a temporary order. This order is not to cast guilt or innocence, but to maintain the status quo during a divorce. A temporary order can also include matters of domestic violence or child abuse. If you request an order for temporary relief, you and your attorney are required to notify the other party within five days.
If you have any questions or concerns about emergency hearings during the coronavirus pandemic, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices. At Holland Law, we continue to serve our clients with skill and dedication. To schedule a consultation in either our Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in our Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue, please call 803-288-3885 or contact us online. We serve clients in the York, Lancaster, and Chester County communities.
Tom Holland previously served as the General Counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is a single father, and through his own divorce gained valuable insight he now uses to represent Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC families with the best representation. Learn more about Tom Holland.