Restraining Orders

There are several kinds of restraining orders: Emergency, Temporary, and Permanent Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection. Each varies in length. Emergency Orders last up to 14 days, Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection can last up to one year, and Permanent Restraining Orders can last for a lifetime.

An Order of Protection (OOP) is a Family Court order that protects a victim from domestic abuse by a spouse, a former spouse, former cohabiting romantic partner, cohabitating romantic partner, or person with whom they have a child in common. It provides temporary protection from abuse, threats of abuse, stalking, or harassment. When appropriate, it can be tailored to each person’s circumstances to include provisions for such things as temporary custody and financial support, possession of the residence (when the parties are married), and even care of pets.

The Family Court Clerk of Court has simplified petition forms which you can fill out and file at their office. If you have an attorney, he or she can help you file a Petition for an Order of Protection. After the Petition has been filed, the Clerk of Court will schedule a hearing in Family Court. The Clerk of Court will notify you about the date and time of the hearing and Law Enforcement typically serves the abuser with the filing and hearing notice. At the hearing, each of you will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge.

In general, crime victims do not need legal representation at Order of Protection hearings because the hearings are designed for unrepresented persons. However, both parties have a legal right to an attorney. We strongly recommend that you have an attorney represent you at an Order of Protection hearing.

A victim of stalking or harassment can petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) through the Magistrate’s Court. This temporary order lasts for up to one year. To file a petition for an TRO, a victim can visit the Magistrate’s Court Clerk where the proper forms will be available.

Victims of violent crimes, parents of minor victims, and witnesses of violent crimes can qualify for Permanent Restraining Orders (PROs) when the perpetrator has (1) committed a qualifying crime and (2) the complainant suffered direct or threatened physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of the crime. A PRO is issued by the Circuit Court or Family Court and protects persons from abuse, threats, violent acts, and harassment by the perpetrator for length of time determined by the court, up to a lifetime.




For more information and guides about Orders of Protection, Restraining Orders, and Permanent Restraining Orders, please visit The University of South Carolina School of Law's Domestic Violence Clinic homepage.