Orders of Protection

Safe Harbor assists survivors of domestic abuse who want to obtain an Order of Protection to stay safe from an abusive spouse or partner. Our staff work with you to complete the necessary paperwork (petition) in order to file for an Order of Protection, as well as offer safety planning assistance and information on what to expect before, during, and after the court hearing. To learn if you are eligible for an Order of Protection, please read answers to the Frequently Asked Questions below. 

Order of Protection Assistance

We do not have attorneys on staff and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice. You are not required to have an attorney for an Order of Protection hearing. However, having an attorney can be very helpful. If you need legal representation, please contact South Carolina Legal Services or the S.C. Bar Association

For assistance with completing an Order of Protection petition, please complete our online intake form or call 1.800.291.2139 (press ‘1’ to speak with someone) to complete a phone intake. You will need to provide a safe phone number or email address so that someone can follow-up with you. Once your phone intake is completed, you will hear from a member of our team within five to seven business days to set-up a meeting. Please note that Safe Harbor services are voluntary and should be initiated by the person seeking services, not by a service provider, loved one or third party. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Orders of Protection in South Carolina

  • What is an Order of Protection in South Carolina?
    South Carolina law says that you can file for an Order of Protection if you have been a victim of abuse. "Abuse," under this law, means either:
    • physical harm and/or bodily injury,
    • threat of physical harm, or
    • a sexual criminal offense committed by a family or household member.
    The person who caused the abuse has to be related to you in one of these ways:
    • your spouse or former spouse,
    • the mother or father of your child, or
    • an intimate partner with whom you live or used to live.

    If your situation does not fit into one of these categories and you have experienced abuse or harassment, you may need to file for a restraining order in magistrate court. Find out which magistrate court serves your area.

  • How can an Order of Protection help me?

    The Order, if granted by the judge, can give you various types of relief on a temporary basis (6 months to 1 year). This list includes possible types of relief; the judge will make decisions about what forms of relief can be given. Possible types of relief through an Order of Protection include:

    • Restraining the abuser from abusing you, threatening to abuse you or harassing you;
    • Restraining the abuser from contacting you or communicating with you, coming to your home, work, school or other place that the judge writes in the order;
    • Granting you temporary custody of any children you have with the abuser;
    • Granting visitation with the children: either giving reasonable visitation or denying visitation;
    • Requiring the abuser to pay child support for any children you have together;
    • Requiring the abuse to pay spousal support or alimony if you are married to the abuser;
    • Granting you possession of the home you live or lived in;
    • Restraining the abuser or both of you from transferring or destroying any property that might belong to the other person or that may be marital property;
    • Allowing you or the other person to get their personal property and restrict either or both people from destroying personal property. The order can also include that either person will have police assistance in retrieving their personal property;
    • Granting you any other relief that you have asked for in your petition ‐ e.g. possession of a specific car, a pet, or any other specific requests you have that aren't included in the list above.

    This video classroom from SC Legal Services can help you to learn more about filing for an Order of Protection.

  • Where do I file for an Order of Protection?
    You will file your Petition at the Clerk of Court (family court) in the county:
    • where the abuse happened; and/or
    • where the abusive spouse/partner lives; and/or
    • where you last lived with the abusive spouse/partner.
    Family Courts in Safe Harbor's service area:
    • Anderson County: 100 S. Main St., Anderson, SC 29624 (ph: 864-260-4037)
    • Greenville County: 350 Halton Rd., Greenville, SC 29616 (ph: 864-467-5800)
    • Oconee County: 211 W. Main St., Walhalla, SC 29691 (ph: 864-638-4287)
    • Pickens County: 214 E. Main St., Pickens, SC 29671 (ph: 864-898-5598)
  • What happens after I have filed for an Order of Protection?
    • Once you have filed your petition, a date will be set for your court hearing.

    • Before the hearing, your spouse/partner must be served with papers to appear in court by a law enforcement officer. If an officer is unable to serve your spouse/partner with papers to appear in court before the hearing date, your hearing will be continued to another date and time.

    • If you feel fearful or unsafe before or after your hearing, please read our safety planning information.

    • SC Legal Services has an online classroom with more information about Orders of Protection, what to expect, etc. 

  • What should I do on the day of my court hearing?
    • Arrive on time and dress appropriately for court (no shorts, hats, etc.)

    • Bring any supporting information you may use for evidence (threatening voicemails/texts/emails, pictures of injuries/bruises, etc.)

    • If you feel unsafe being in a waiting area where your abusive spouse/partner will also be waiting, ask a court staff member if there is a private space where you can wait. You can also ask for an officer’s assistance if you are afraid that your abusive spouse/partner will try to approach, harass or harm you.

    • You may bring witnesses or supportive people with you to court. Keep in mind the courtroom is small and can only accommodate a small number of people.

    • During the hearing, answer any questions that the judge directs toward you. Do not try to speak during the times when the judge is asking questions to your spouse/partner or others.

    • If you are granted an Order of Protection, make copies of the order to keep with you at all times (in your home, car, purse, etc.) Contact law enforcement if your abusive spouse/partner is violating the order.

    • SC Legal Services has an online classroom with more information about filing for an Order of Protection, preparing for court, etc. 

  • Safety Planning Tips
    • Please visit our safety planning page for safety tips and resources on creating a personalized safety plan.

    • Please be aware that there could be several days between when your partner is served with a summons to appear in court and your court hearing date. This can be a particularly dangerous time, and Safe Harbor offers safe emergency shelter for survivors of domestic abuse and their children. Call our 24/7 line at 1.800.291.2139 (select option 1 to speak with someone) and complete an intake. If you do not want to stay in shelter, consider staying with a friend or family member, preferably at a location unknown to your abusive spouse/partner.

    • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and utilize friends, coworkers and security officers to escort you at work or school.

    • If you fear that your abusive spouse/partner may be tracking you through technology, consider having your phone, car, computer or other devices checked by a law enforcement officer for spyware or GPS tracking.

    • If you feel that someone is following you, drive directly to the nearest police or fire station. There will always be someone there to assist you.

    • In court if your partner approaches you in the lobby before the advocate calls your name, let an officer know and they will assist you.

    • If you do not feel safe exiting the building after your hearing, ask an officer to escort you safely to your vehicle or ride.

You can find more information about Legal Concerns about domestic violence on our website. 

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