The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Family Court Benchmark
Pursuant to the provisions of Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,
IT IS ORDERED that all domestic relations and juvenile cases in the State of South Carolina, with the exception of DSS Abuse and Neglect cases, shall be disposed of within 365 days of their filing. Further, the Family Court Chief Judges for Administrative Purposes (Chief Administrative Judges) shall direct and oversee the monitoring of all cases which are older than 365 days, and for which no final hearing has been requested. Once a case older than 365 days has been scheduled for a final hearing, only the Chief Administrative Judge for the circuit or county may continue it, even if the request for continuance is received by the assigned judge during the week of trial.
The County Clerks of Court shall indicate on all domestic relations and juvenile cases (with the exception of DSS Abuse and Neglect cases) the following notice: “Written requests for a final hearing in this case must be delivered by a party or attorney to the Clerk’s Office within 365 days of this filing date. Failure to comply with this notice may result in the dismissal of this case by the Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes.”
In the event no request for a final hearing is received by the Clerk of Court within the time period prescribed and there is no other order by the Chief Administrative Judge extending the case, the Clerk of Court shall prepare an Order of Dismissal without prejudice and provide the order and the file for review by the Chief Administrative Judge. If it is determined that dismissal is appropriate, then the Chief Administrative Judge shall sign the Order of Dismissal. If a case is continued for any reason past 365 days, the Order of Continuance must include a time and date rescheduling the case.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if the family court Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes has a conflict and is unable sign an Order of Dismissal pursuant to this Administrative Order, any family court judge that is a resident of the judicial circuit may sign the Order of Dismissal.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that in the event an action is dismissed without prejudice pursuant to this Administrative Order, any existing orders in the affected case file which were not final will be considered null and void and no longer subject to enforcement by this court (including, but not limited to, the enforcement and collection of child support and/or alimony) with any support arrearages being thereby dismissed.
This order supersedes the Family Court Benchmark order issued August 27, 2014, and is effective immediately.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
July 24, 2020