The divorce process can be an emotionally draining and very upsetting life event. However, it should never get to the point where you feel that filing for a divorce will put your well-being at risk. Therefore, if you believe that asking your spouse for a divorce will endanger your safety as well as that of your other family members, then you should immediately contact one of the following services:
- If there is an imminent threat of violence or you feel that your life and/or the lives of your children are in danger, call the police right away.
- If you are not facing an immediate threat and you can find a safe space, reach out to a local women’s crisis or domestic violence center in your city. Regardless of the size, every city has at least one center. The centers have workers who are equipped to handle violent situations and are there to help you.
- Again, if there is not an immediate threat and you can find a safe place, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1(800) 799-7233. If you are not able to speak or it is not safe, you can send a text to this number: 22522. Additionally, if you would like to learn more about their services or prefer to chat with them online, you can visit their website here: https://www.thehotline.org/.
- If you do not believe that you are in immediate danger, you can also get a temporary restraining order from a family law court. These are free and can be issued quickly.
What Types of Temporary Orders Can I Get and How Long Will It Take?
There are several types of temporary orders available, many of which apply to different scenarios. As discussed above, a person who is seeking to obtain one of them will have to file a request with the court.
When an individual is currently in a dangerous situation or is attempting to avoid being in one, the request can be rushed and heard by the court in a matter of days or within that week.
The following is a list of the kinds of temporary orders that a person can request:
- Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs): TROs are used to prevent a spouse (usually one who is violent) from contacting the other spouse in any manner, including in person or via calls, texts, e-mails, mail, social media platforms, etc. They are typically only enforceable for 5 to 15 days. Thus, a request will need to be made to either have it extended or to start the process for obtaining a permanent one.
- Temporary Spousal Support or Child Support: Although spousal and child support orders are more often issued as part of the divorce proceeding, a court may grant temporary spousal or child support in certain situations. In general, both types of support refer to the payments made by the independent spouse to the dependent spouse and/or the children, so that they can afford to pay for any necessities (e.g., food, shelter, etc.).
- Temporary Child Custody: The effect of a temporary child custody order is to provide one spouse with child custody and to prevent the other spouse from taking the child and/or children away if granted.
- Temporary Order Not to Sell Assets: This order prevents one spouse from liquidating (e.g., selling-off) any assets, such as the family home, vehicles, or other holdings.
- Kick-Out Order: These are also known as “temporary exclusive occupancy of the residence” orders. The purpose of a kick-out order is to remove a violent spouse from the marital home. If granted, that spouse will be required to move out of the shared premises, while the remaining spouse will temporarily be given sole possession of the house.
Can I or Should I Close Any Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards?
Generally speaking, closing out any joint bank accounts and/or credit cards is not recommended. The reason for this is because these actions can be used against the spouse doing them, during the parties’ divorce proceeding. If this happens, the other spouse can accuse the acting spouse of fraud or theft.
Again, although it is not advised, a spouse may be able to withdraw some funds to pay for necessary items or in case of emergency. If possible, it is best to keep the receipts received for purchases to use as evidence and to protect against future disputes regarding the removal of unnecessary funds.
Can You Be Accused of Kidnapping If You Take Your Children Away From the Home?
Removing the children from a crisis or other dangerous situation is not considered kidnapping. If it is not safe in the house or they are in immediate danger, call the police and take them to a safe place if possible.
If the situation allows, however, the best way to guard against being accused of kidnapping is to obtain a temporary child custody order from the court. As mentioned, these are usually processed quickly and will establish specific parental rights over the children.
In addition, if a person wants to move their children out-of-state, then it is highly recommended that they speak with a lawyer first. A lawyer will be able to determine whether moving out-of-state with the children before the divorce is finalized will hurt that spouse’s chances of gaining child custody.
How Long Do Temporary Court Orders Last?
In general, temporary court orders are usually valid until the next court hearing. If both spouses are able to work out on an agreement on their own, they can bring it to a judge to make it legally enforceable.
It is important to note that if there is already a temporary order in place, then neither party is allowed to violate its terms until a court issues an order to lift or remove it, or it expires. This is true even if the parties work out their own arrangement before the next court hearing.
Also, if a party is looking to extend the order or to make it permanent, then they should use the time between court hearings to gather additional evidence and to prepare their case to demonstrate why one should be granted.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Help with My Temporary Order?
If you are put in a situation where you believe that you need a temporary order and/or are hoping to have it extended as a permanent order, then you should speak to a divorce attorney near you as soon as possible.
An experienced divorce attorney will be able to give guidance on and can help you obtain the right level of legal protection for your issue. An attorney can also provide advice regarding the safest course of action for your situation, answer any questions about the filing process, and can discuss how you want to move forward if you choose to get a divorce.