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Where To Find Family Court Records In South Carolina?

South Carolina family court records refer to public and confidential documents of domestic and juvenile proceedings that are maintained by family courts in South Carolina. The Family Courts are specialized courts with exclusive jurisdiction over domestic matters such as marriage, legal separation, custody, adoption, support, and juvenile matters. Generally, members of the public have access to non-confidential family court records in South Carolina.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What Is Family Law In South Carolina?

South Carolina family laws are a set of rules and regulations established to guide court procedures in resolving family issues. Divided into titles, chapters articles, and sections, these laws cover different family case types. These laws include:

Title 63, South Carolina Children’s Code: covers juvenile matters, cases involving minor children, and the procedures of the family court, including those of authorized agencies providing family services and programs

  • Chapter 7: Child protection and permanency
  • Chapter 9: Adoption
  • Chapter 15: Child custody and visitation
  • Chapter 17: Paternity and child support
  • Chapter 19: Juvenile Justice Code

Title 20, Domestic Relations: regulates domestic matters such as:

  • Chapter 1: Marriage
  • Chapter 3: Divorce
  • Chapter 4: Protection from domestic abuse
  • Chapter 5: Property rights of married women

Title 15, Civil Remedies and Procedures: governs civil procedures of the family court, including:

  • Chapter 49: Name Change

What Are Family Court Cases And Records In South Carolina?

Family court cases refer to the distinct family issues handled by the courts in South Carolina. When a family matter is filed in the court, a record is created to document the ensuing proceedings. Typically, these records consist of the final judgments, orders (support, custody, etc.), court transcripts, affidavits, and more. As provided by §63–3–530, South Carolina family courts have the authority to hear and decide the family disputes or matters including:

  • Child or adult adoptions
  • Marital litigation (divorce, annulment, legal separation, alimony, and division of property)
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Change of name
  • Correction of birth records
  • Child protection
  • Child support
  • Enlistment or employment of minors
  • Domestic violence
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Juvenile cases
  • Child custody and visitation rights

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In South Carolina?

Yes, according to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, family court cases are public records unless deemed confidential by court order or statute. Records sealed by court order or statute are often for privacy or security reasons. These records include juvenile, adoption, paternity, medical evaluation, abuse/neglect, custody records, as well as redacted personal information such as names, dates of birth, home addresses, financial details, driver identification numbers, social security numbers, and credit records of involved parties.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In South Carolina?

Members of the public can find family court records in South Carolina by visiting the Clerk of Court’s office where the case was filed. This request must be made during office hours. Interested persons may contact the relevant Clerk’s office for order and copy fee inquiries, or check the court’s official website for ordering information. Generally, the information required to identify records and process requests includes the party’s name, case type, and case number. Contact details of the Clerk of Family Court and family courts are available on the South Carolina judiciary’s website. It is also possible to use the County Information Lookup search box located on the lower left of the judiciary’s home page to search for family courts by county.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

Complete family court records are available only in the courthouses with jurisdiction over the cases. Individuals may, however, search and view case details in any of the 46 counties using the Case Record Search. Some courts, including the Beaufort, Richland, and Berkeley family courts, still provide access to search dockets and indexes on their individual websites. Requesters are required to enter the plaintiff/defendant’s name (first, middle, and last), case number, attorney’s name, and filing date to obtain case information. On the other hand, parties searching for family court dockets are required to enter the court date and courtroom into search fields to obtain results.

What Is South Carolina Custody Law?

South Carolina custody law, otherwise called the Child Custody and Visitation law, is established under Title 63, South Carolina Children’s Code. This law governs visitation rights, living arrangements of children, and parental responsibilities in custody cases. Under the law, there are 2 types of custody in the state: sole and joint custody. Depending on the final ruling of a family court judge or by mutual agreement, one or both parents may have or share the right to make major decisions concerning the child. Some which include the residence, education, activities (daily, religious, and other extracurricular activities), and medical needs. This law also covers parenting plans, custody in domestic violence cases, de facto custody rulings, considerations for sole or joint custody, and other criteria used to determine custody matters in family courts.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In South Carolina?

Parties involved in family cases in South Carolina can find qualified family court lawyers using the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) provided by the South Carolina Bar. This service is available online or by phone. To access the telephone service, the searcher may call (800) 868–2284 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Lawyers in Lexington or Richland counties may be found by calling (800) 799–7100. Online access is available via the Find a Lawyer tool. It should be noted that this service is not free. However, lawyers in the LRS system do not charge above $50 for a 30-minute consultation. The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program offers free legal services to impoverished or low-income citizens on the condition that the interested party meets established federal poverty guidelines. Individuals who want to find out if they qualify for this program may call (800) 395–3425.

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