Dec 16

Basics of Subpoenas

Written by: Mikaila Matt

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Subpoenabasics of subpoenasIt’s important to know the basics of subpoenas in South Carolina divorce cases so you can use them to your advantage.

A subpoena has the same power as a court order. Subpoenas can be issued by a South Carolina attorney or, if a party to a divorce case does not have an attorney, by the Clerk of Court in the county where the case is pending.

Rule 45, SCRCP, outlines the requirements for issuing a subpoena, how it must be served, and the different types of subpoenas. There are four types of subpoenas in South Carolina divorce cases:

1. Subpoenas for Documents

The most common type of subpoena used in South Carolina divorce cases is a subpoena for documents, sometimes referred to as a “subpoena duces tecum.” These subpoenas can be used to obtain copies of bank records, employment files, financial planning information, mortgage statements, credit card statements, and retirement account balances, in addition to many other things. If you also have a HIPAA-compliant release, you can use a subpoena to obtain copies of medical records.

Each subpoena includes a deadline for when the requested documents must be provided.

To comply with Rule 45, SCRCP, you must serve a copy on the opposing party before serving on the entity you are requesting documents from.  Then, the subpoena can be served by any person who is not a party or an attorney in the case, or by certified mail.

Once the subpoena is served, the party receiving the subpoena has at least ten (10) days to provide the records.

2. Subpoenas for Inspection of Premises

These subpoenas are used to gain access to a particular location or object. In South Carolina Family Court cases, you can use a subpoena to gain access to a home to have an appraisal done or to take pictures of damage to a piece of property.

3. Subpoenas for Witness Testimony at a Deposition

A deposition is an opportunity to question another party or a witness about the case while they are under oath. All questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter, and the deposition may be video-recorded as well.

A subpoena is used to ensure a witness comes to their deposition. The witness is entitled to an appearance of $25.00 plus the cost of their mileage to, and from, the deposition, and they must be given at least ten days’ notice of the deposition.

4. Subpoenas for Witness Testimony at a Trial

Similarly, it can be challenging to convince witnesses to come to trial to testify. A witness who is subpoenaed to testify at a trial is also entitled to a $25.00 witness fee plus the cost of mileage to, and from, the courthouse.

These are powerful tools for collecting proof of your claims, but you have to start with the basics of subpoenas in South Carolina divorce cases. Hire an experienced attorney who can use subpoenas to your benefit by scheduling a consultation with us today.