The early stages of a divorce are especially difficult for clients because of all the uncertainty caused by separation and divorce – where will the parties and children live; how will family expenses be paid; and, more importantly, when will each parent have time with their children?
All of these crucial issues need to be decided quickly and on a temporary basis so that clients can continue living day-to-day while all the facts of the divorce are assembled, presented and possibly reviewed by a judge for a final decision. Where minor children are involved, a divorce cannot be finalized for six months from the time the complaint is filed. Divorces that go to trial generally take more than six months.
To help a spouse that has immediate needs, attorneys have at their disposal a very versatile and effective tool: file a motion and request a temporary order from the judge.
As the name suggests, the judge can issue court orders that remain in effect until the divorce is finalized and that can address just about any situation, such as:
• The amount of child support that one spouse will pay to the other to ensure that the kids are provided for;• Prevent a party from selling substantial assets that will become part of the divorce settlement;• Determine who has “use and possession” of the marital home or vehicle; and,• Determine parenting time for the non-custodial parent.
To reduce costs and the stress of confrontation, I counsel my clients to attempt to settle these issues without the necessity of a motion and a hearing. If an agreement can be reached outside the courtroom, an order can be entered – even without a hearing. In cases where the parties can’t find common ground, it’s necessary to file a motion, hold a hearing, and let the judge decide these issues.
In a divorce with minor children, my immediate priority is custody, parenting time, and child support, which initially is accomplished through a temporary order.
A hearing on a motion for temporary order is generally brief and usually involves oral argument from the attorneys as opposed to sworn testimony from the parties. The judge will review evidence presented by either party, will consider the arguments made by both parties, and then will issue a ruling. Temporary orders remain in effect until the divorce is final or another hearing is held to alter the order, and they are binding and enforceable.
It’s been my experience that a temporary order is often necessary to help my clients enforce their rights and to find some semblance of normalcy and order for themselves and their children during a very difficult time.