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General Information

Court of Common Pleas
and General Sessions
 
Family Court

Julie J.Armstrong

Clerk of Court

Common Pleas and General Sessions

100 Broad Street, Suite 106

Charleston, South Carolina 29401-2258

Phone: (843) 958-5000       Fax: (843) 958-5020

 

Julie J.Armstrong

Clerk of Court

Family Court

100 Broad Street, Suite 143

Charleston, South Carolina 29401-2265

Phone: (843) 958-4400 Fax: (843) 958-4434

 


The Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions are the civil and criminal branches of the Circuit Court of South Carolina. Charleston and Berkeley Counties form the 9th Judicial Circuit of the state's 16 circuits. 43 circuit judges rotate among the 16 circuits. Circuit Court judges are elected by the General Assembly and serve 6 year terms.

The Family Court was established by statute in 1976 and follows the territorial boundaries of the 16 judicial circuits. The 49 Family Court judges rotate assignments within this circuit. Family Court judges are elected to four-year terms by the General Assembly.

The Court of Common Pleas is the court of general jurisdiction over civil cases in Charleston County, exempting those cases in which the amount or value of property in dispute is less than $7,500. Cases involving money or property totaling less than $7,500 are heard in Small Claims Magistrates' Courts.

The Court of General Sessions is the court of general jurisdiction over criminal cases in Charleston County, exempting most misdemeanor cases, which are usually adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts. Special Magistrates' Courts also exist for the purpose of handling the bond hearing and preliminary hearing phases of the criminal case process.

Family Court has jurisdiction over matters such as child support, adoption, domestic abuse, abuse and neglect, interstate custody cases, Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("URESA") cases, and domestic relations; that is, cases such as divorce, annulment, paternity, and change of name. Family Court also serves as a collection agent for child support in Charleston County. Juvenile criminal matters are also adjudicated in Family Court.

Unlike the Courts of Common Pleas or General Sessions, many Family Court case records are considered confidential and may only be inspected with special permission. Cases involving juvenile delinquency, adoptions, termination of parental rights, abuse and neglect and any other case in which the records are ordered sealed by the court, are completely confidential. Files for these types of cases may not be inspected, and the cases are not available for access through the Clerk of Court's Public Access system.

The Clerk of Court provides administrative support to the Courts in the following manner:

  • Process legal actions of a civil or criminal nature.
  • Keeps and maintains case records, including records of judgments.
  • Records transcripts of judgment from the Small Claims courts, and out-of-county judgments
  • Schedules civil Jury and Non-Jury trials , and maintains a schedule of other types of hearings.
  • Collects and disburses money as ordered by the court.

The Clerk of Court also handles the following:

  • Records military discharges (DD214) when filed by the discharged service member.
  • Maintains records on the issuance of bonds for public improvements.
  • Records signatures of Notary Publics.
  • Files campaign disclosures of candidates who reside in the county.
  • Records and registers ministers, magistrates, peace officers, and bail bondsmen.

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