South Carolina Trial Courts

Current Trial Courts Districts

SC Circuit Courts

SC Family Courts

The Circuit Court is the state's court of general jurisdiction. It has a civil court, the Court of Common Pleas, and a criminal court, the Court of General Sessions.

In addition to its general trial jurisdiction, the Circuit Court has limited appellate jurisdiction over appeals from the Probate Court, Magistrate's Court, and Municipal Court, as well as appeals from the Administrative Law Judge Division, which hears matters relating to state administrative and regulatory agencies.

The State is divided into sixteen judicial circuits. Each circuit has at least one resident circuit judge who maintains an office in the judge's home county within the circuit. There are forty-six circuit judges who serve the sixteen circuits on a rotating basis, with court terms and assignments determined by the Chief Justice based upon recommendations of Court Administration.

Circuit court judges are elected by the General Assembly to staggered terms of six years.

The uniform statewide Family Court system was established by statute in 1976. The Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters involving domestic or family relationships. Pursuant to this provision, the Family Court is the sole forum for the hearing of all cases concerning marriage, divorce, legal separation, custody, visitation rights, termination of parental rights, adoption, support, alimony, division of marital property, and change of name.

The court also generally has exclusive jurisdiction over minors under the age of seventeen alleged to have violated any state law or municipal ordinance. However, most traffic, fish, and game law violations are still triable in the magistrate or municipal courts. Serious criminal charges may be transferred to the Circuit Court.

At least two family court judges are elected for staggered six year terms to each of the sixteen judicial circuits, and rotate primarily from county to county within their resident circuits. Occasionally they are assigned to other circuits based upon caseload requirements as directed by the Chief Justice.



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