Family Court Attorney
11 Whitsett St
Greenville, SC 29601


The Process

1. Initial Consultation:
We will help you determine what issues need to be resolved by the Family Court. If we accept your case, you will receive a client “To-Do” list and Mobley Law Firm will go to work to protect your interests.
2. File Pleadings:
This is how the process officially gets started. If you are the first to file, the document will be called a Complaint. If you are responding to a Complaint, then the document will be called an Answer or an Answer and Counterclaim. This paperwork sets out what issues the Family Court may entertain when you get to Court. These documents are signed and filed by attorneys. They are not Court Orders.
3. Temporary Hearing:
In order to fully protect our clients, we often ask the Court to grant us certain relief on a temporary basis. This is especially true in matters concerning children and financial support. Typically, it takes about one month to get into Court for a temporary hearing which usually lasts fifteen minutes. A temporary hearing is not a trial. At temporary hearings, judges make decisions based upon affidavits and Financial Declarations presented by both sides. Affidavits are written or typed narratives signed by the client and others that summarize why the client should be granted the relief he or she is requesting. The Financial Declaration is a document that provides the judge with financial information about your income, monthly expenses, the assets or property that you own, and outstanding debts. Affidavits and Financial Declarations have to be witnessed by a Notary Public. The paralegals at Mobley Law Firm are extremely helpful in assisting with the completion of these documents.
After a temporary hearing, the judge will sign a Temporary Order. The Court Order will set forth each side's obligations while the case is pending. The judge's ruling is without prejudice to either side at the Final Hearing, at which time a judge may do something completely different.
If you have difficulty resolving custody and visitation issues with your children, the Court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to protect the interests of the children. If so, that person will complete an independent investigation regarding the best interests of the children.
4. Discovery Process:
Many times people are surprised by the information presented to the judge at the Temporary Hearing. Since neither side typically sees the other's affidavits before getting to Court, neither side is left in a position to be able to adequately respond to things being said about them and the process does not provide sufficient time for a judge to fully hear from everyone.
The Temporary Order will often provide for discovery. This is an opportunity for both sides to learn the intentions of the other side and to learn what they can and cannot prove should the case proceed to trial. It is a time for information gathering and information sharing. Court ordered discovery provides for different methods of accomplishing these things. Information may be obtained by written means or sometimes by oral examination under oath.
5. Mediation:
Mediation is a process by which parties to a case attempt to settle their differences by way of agreement and forego the emotion, cost and frustration of preparing for and attending a trial. Greenville and some other counties require mediation before the attorneys can request a final hearing, unless they reach an agreement without attending mediation. Although many attorneys were skeptical about the procedure when it became mandatory, most now have been pleasantly surprised with the overall success rate. At mediation, you may settle any part or all parts of your case. Most of the time, attorneys attend mediation with their clients. A trained mediator is present to facilitate the process and opposing parties generally remain in separate rooms. In order to encourage settlement, things that are said at mediation cannot later be used against a person in Court. Following mediation, the mediator will submit a report to the Court indicating what issues have been resolved and how much Court time will be needed at the final hearing.
6. Final Hearing:
The first question a lot of people ask is, “How long will it take before the final hearing?” It is an impossible question to answer because there are too many variables. A few months for a reasonably prompt agreement may be a fair statement. Some contested cases often take more than a year to reach.
Unlike the Temporary Hearing, the Final Hearing requires the taking of testimony and the introduction of evidence. Instead of Affidavits, people are required to take the witness stand and subject themselves to cross-examination by the opposing attorney.
After a Final Hearing, the judge signs a Final Order. Although the Order is “final” and “permanent,” any issue concerning a child can be re-addressed by the Court if there has been a substantial change of conditions (custody, visitation, child support). If alimony was awarded, it can also be sometimes modified by the Court. Any waiver of alimony, division of property and debt and other issues may not be re-addressed by the Court in the future.