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What to Expect:
General SC Family Court Timeline

The Law Office of Carolyn M. Bone, LLC     Summerville, SC   

  • This is a very general overview of a typical South Carolina Family Court case. Every case is different and it is common for any case to deviate from this timeline. This is not intended to be legal advice. Our law office serves clients across the Lowcountry of South Carolina including Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties. 

  1. All cases begin with the filing of a Summons and Complaint. This asks very generally for what you want (relief) and requires the other side to respond to your requests. 

  2. In some cases, we will file a Motion for Temporary Relief. In other cases, we hold off until later or forgo a temporary hearing entirely. Temporary hearings can be especially useful in custody or alimony cases, or when restraining orders are needed. 

  3. Once the pleadings are returned from the Clerk of Court, we coordinate service of the pleadings on the other party. The other party has thirty (30) days to respond. Sometimes we agree to expand that time. 

  4. ​In many cases, we begin the discovery process shortly after filing (sometimes later, or sometimes not at all depending on your case). This is a process of formal information gathering. This may include written questions, requests for admissions, requests for documents, depositions (live questioning under oath recorded by a court reporter), and subpoenas. The other side generally has thirty (30) days to respond, although attorneys routinely agree to expand this time. ​In certain cases, we conduct informal discovery by agreement, especially in Cooperative Law matters. 

  5. A Guardian ad Litem may be appointed by agreement without a hearing, or may be appointed via a temporary or other hearing. A GAL is appointed in contested custody cases or in child name change and paternity cases (mandatory whether the case is contested or not). Not all cases will need a GAL. The GAL conducts an investigation and reports his or her findings to the Court, together with recommendations for the benefit of the child(ren). 

  6. Once we have sufficient information to make a reasonable settlement offer, we generally begin the negotiation process. 

  7. Mediation is mandatory in SC Family Court cases if we are not able to reach an agreement otherwise. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party who is trained to help participants reach a compromised agreement to settle their case. Most cases resolve with an agreement at or before mediation. Typically the mediator is a very experienced family law attorney. 

  8. If we reach an agreement, we will request a final hearing

  9. If we are not able to reach an agreement, we proceed to trial. All cases must be either resolved within 365 days of filing or we must request a trial date. The date of trial will depend on many factors, including how much trial time we need and the county in which the trial will take place.


You are welcome to contact our Summerville divorce and family law office to request a consultation

Contact Us

703 North Magnolia Street

Summerville, SC 29483

843-261-7025

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