In 1984, South Carolina adopted its "Protection from Domestic Abuse Act.”

This wellintentioned act provides for a legal action known as a "petition for an order of protection." It allows the court to hold an emergency hearing within twenty-four hours and provides for other hearings within fifteen days.

This act places certain duties and responsibilities upon law enforcement officers responding to calls in which there are allegations of abuse of one spouse by the other.

This act requires the clerk of court to maintain simple forms that enable a victim to proceed without a lawyer. Most persons entitled to proceed under this act would otherwise be entitled to more relief than is available under the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act.

Proceeding without a lawyer in this manner may cause less relief rather than the full relief to which the parties is entitled. Any relief that the court may order will only be valid for sixty days, except a restraining order, which is valid for six months.

I advise seeking a lawyer when you have a legal problem. As I said in Chapter 2, Frequently Asked Questions, page 8, FAQ #1, you may be your own surgeon and remove your own appendix, but I do not recommend it. Likewise, you may be your own lawyer.