What is subject matter jurisdiction? That is the term used to describe what types of cases a court can hear. Unlike some states, South Carolina has a family court system. Every county in the state has a family court and that court is known as a court of limited jurisdiction. This means family courts can only hear and decide the types of cases that the General Assembly has set forth by statute.
In South Carolina, family courts have the authority to resolve all types of marital litigation. This means is that family courts can hear cases for divorce, annulment, and separate support and maintenance (resolves issues related to the marriage, but the parties remain married).
In addition to marital litigation, family court also going to the authority to hear and decide issues involving children. These include paternity, adoptions, termination of parental rights, child custody/visitation, child support, and a variety of other juvenile matters.
Virtually everyone who goes through a divorce in South Carolina will end up in court at some point or another, even if their case is resolved by agreement. It is therefore important to understand subject matter jurisdiction. If a court does not have subject matter jurisdiction, then it cannot hear the case. In fact, even if the court does hear the case, the court's ruling could always be overturned later on for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Subject matter jurisdiction must be established in every case proceeding in front of the family court in South Carolina. If the court does not have it, even if the issue isn't raised by either of the parties or the judge, any order from the court could be overturned later on, even decades later.