You and your ex cannot get along. And you’ve finally decided that it’s time to go your separate ways. Trouble is, you can’t reach an agreement on the terms of the separation either. So, you ask for a temporary order.
One of the most common mistakes divorcing couples make is disregarding a temporary order. That’s a serious problem since temporary orders are designed to help spouses hold their own until a divorce is finalized.
Here, we’re explaining everything you need to know about a temporary order, including how it works, what it’s for, and how to ask for one.
What is a Temporary Order?
Let’s say two parents decide to get a divorce. Like many divorcing couples, they find that they can’t agree on exact terms for anything in their divorce. So, the divorce lawyers are called.
Then, the parent taking care of the kids realizes that they can’t afford extended legal fees while feeding and housing their kids. But they can’t take a divorce decision lying down either.
Or, the couple doesn’t have kids but they do have shared property that needs to be divided and living arrangements that need to be decided, choices that can’t be put off much longer.
Here’s the problem: most lawsuits take months, if not years, to make it to court. Divorces, especially cases where the spouses fight on every issue, are especially difficult.
This is where temporary orders can help.
What are Temporary Orders For?
Temporary orders are designed as a stopgap measure to help couples who can’t wait for the court to make a permanent decision about who gets the kids and who pays for what.
A temporary order can address several issues in a divorce. This can include child custody issues such as:
- Who gets custody of the children
- Who is responsible for paying child support
- Who will carry health insurance for the children
- Creating a temporary visitation schedule for the parent without primary custody
- Whether a guardian is needed for the children
- How extracurricular school expenses will be paid
It can also address property-related issues such as:
- Which spouse will live in the marital home
- Who is responsible for the mortgage and other shared bills
- Who is responsible for credit card debts
- Who drives what vehicle and who pays for what vehicle
- How household belongings and items will be split
It can also be used to handle spousal support decisions.
Keep in mind, though, that a temporary order may not dictate the final divorce arrangement. The temporary order will remain in effect until the court reaches a final decision regarding the divorce.
Why are Temporary Orders Important?
With all of that in mind, it should be fairly obvious why temporary orders are important, especially with regards to child custody.
If the two spouses have an amicable split or can agree on several issues, that can help expedite the process considerably–they may even be able to avoid going to court altogether.
But if the two spouses cannot agree, they’re going to have to continue to handle joint expenses and responsibilities before their divorce is finalized. This is a tricky problem, especially if they cannot agree on the terms of support.
Unfortunately, children rely on their parents to care for them, and children are often the unintentional sufferers when divorcing parents cannot get along.
Even if a couple doesn’t have any children, a temporary order can be a lifesaver. Say that a couple bought a house together primarily on the salary of one spouse. If that spouse leaves, the other could be stuck in a home they can’t afford any longer or saddled with debts they can’t afford to repay.
In this case, a temporary order keeps that spouse from drowning in debt while the divorce proceedings continue.
When Should You Ask for a Temporary Order?
With that in mind, let’s talk about when you should ask for a temporary order.
When two spouses decide to divorce and one of them moves out of the house, you have two options: agree on how to divide child custody and shared expenses, or, if you cannot agree, ask a judge to make the decision on your behalf.
Most couples wind up with the latter option.
If there are critical issues you cannot agree on that can’t wait months, you should ask for a temporary order immediately. Especially if you’re the spouse who’s taking care of the children or saddled with the bills.
How to Ask for a Temporary Order
If it sounds like a temporary order is something you’re going to need, let’s talk about how to get one.
What You’ll Need
Before you ask a judge for a temporary order, you’re going to need a few things on hand, such as:
- A request for the court order you want
- A proposed temporary order granting the relief you’re requesting
- A supporting declaration
- A proof of service
In some states, your request will include an Application for Order to Show Cause and an Order to Show Cause. These are basic legal documents outlining what you’re asking for–you just need to fill in boxes.
You’ll also need a proposed temporary order. If the judge grants your order, they’ll sign the proposed order. The supporting declaration sets out the legal justifications for granting the order under penalty of perjury.
What to Expect at the Hearing
Once you have the necessary documents, you and your lawyer can prepare for the hearing. Usually, this is held within a few weeks of submitting the request, but in an emergency, it can be held in a few days.
This type of hearing typically takes 20 minutes or less. The judge will review the details you’ve provided, ask your spouse for their side of the story, ask a few clarifying questions, and (in child support cases) refer to the state’s recommended support guidelines.
After the hearing, the judge will issue a decision within a week. If your request has solid legal standing, they’ll either grant the order you requested or modify it somewhat. This decision will stay in effect until the divorce is finalized, either through a court decision or an agreement between spouses.
Need a Family Attorney for Your Case?
If it sounds like you might need a temporary order, then it’s time to find a family lawyer who can help.
And if you’re still looking for guidance, check out our blog for more tips, like these eight signs you need a child custody lawyer.