Family law cases can take a long time to finalize. The common family law case takes 6 to 12 months to resolve, and may take longer than this (especially if the case is contested).
During the time that your case is pending, the Court is authorized (though not required) to make temporary orders. Temporary orders are “rules” that the Court will put in place for the parties to follow while the case is pending. Temporary orders may include rules (or “orders”) regarding the children and/or use of property and payment of debts.
Common temporary orders regarding property include:
- Who gets to live in the marital home while the case is pending?
- Who will pay the mortgage and vehicle notes while the case is pending?
- Who will pay the parties’ debts while the case is pending?
- Will one party pay temporary spousal support to the other party while the case is pending?
- Will one party pay for the other party’s attorney’s fees?
Common temporary orders regarding children include:
- Which parent will be the primary conservator while the case is pending?
- What will the visitation (or, “possession and access”) schedule be while the case is pending?
- Will a parent be required to pay child support to the other parent while the case is pending?
- Which party will maintain health and dental insurance for the children while the case is pending?
The list above is not all-inclusive, but rather is intended to provide examples of what issues are commonly addressed in a hearing for temporary orders.
Temporary orders can be important in family law cases to minimize the risk of property being damaged or lost (i.e., the home going into foreclosure because neither party is paying the mortgage), and to ensure the safety and welfare of the children.
Below are examples of when temporary orders may be useful:
- You file for divorce, and move out of the home. Your spouse refuses to allow you back in the home to get your belongings. Your spouse also stops paying the mortgage on the house. You can file a request for temporary orders to ask the court to make orders allowing you to retrieve your belongings on a certain date, and ask the court to make orders regarding who should pay the mortgage while your divorce case is pending.
- You have a child with your significant other. You and your significant other separate and end your romantic relationship. The other parent then begins to refuse you access to your child. You file a suit to establish custody and visitation, but your trial will not be for 6-12 months. You can file a request for temporary orders to ask the court to give you temporary visitation of your child between the time you filed the case and the time your case goes to trial.
- You file a suit for custody and child support. The other parent has not helped pay for any of the child’s expenses and you would like to initiate child support payments right away. You can file a request for temporary orders to ask the court to make the other parent pay child support to you while your custody case is pending
Any party in a family law case can ask for temporary orders by filing a Motion for Temporary Orders. The judge will have a temporary orders hearing (so the judge can hear from both you and the other side). The judge will then make temporary orders.
The temporary orders will last until a final order is signed by the judge (or until the temporary orders are changed by the judge).
In some cases, the Court will require the parties to attend mediation to attempt to negotiate the terms of temporary orders before the Court will allow the parties to have a hearing for temporary orders. While a party may believe that there is no chance of reaching an agreement in mediation for temporary orders, that reasoning is rarely sufficient to forego the Court’s requirement.