During a divorce, there are many family related issues that need to be decided by the court while the case is ongoing. Some family court decisions take months or even years to be become formally decided on. However, some of the issues cannot be on hold for that long, as the family wants to make changes. 

Temporary orders are used in family law cases to have a temporary effect on some issues until a final family court decision can be made in a formal divorce hearing. If couples want to make a quick decision from a judge about who gets the house, car, or custody of kids and need to make that decision right away, a temporary order will serve that cause. 

What Can Temporary Orders Be Used For?

Temporary orders in family law cases are used for to make important temporary decisions on the following: 

When Should I Request a Temporary Orders?

Couples should ask for a temporary order when they need to make an important decision on a family matter and they have not come to an agreement outside of court. Divorcing couples have two options when they separate:

  1. Come to an agreement on how they will share expenses, property, or decide on child custody or support; or
  2. Go to the court and have the judge decide.

If the couple can come to an agreement outside of court on family issues, like in mediation, they can write up a temporary agreement and resolve the remainder of the divorce in family court. If the couple cannot agree outside of court through an agreement and need to decide on a matter quickly for a temporary duration while the court decides a formal decision, the couple can ask for a temporary order.

How Do I Request a Temporary Order?

Every state has different procedures for obtaining temporary orders. In some jurisdictions, special forms and documents must be submitted. You can request temporary orders by filing the following documents:


  • File a Application for Order to Show Cause (OSC) and an Order to Show Cause: This form is a legal document that you can fill out that sets out what you are asking the court to do such as requesting temporary child support or possession of the family car or house.
  • File Supporting Declaration: This is a written statement that is signed under penalty of perjury that sets out legal facts of why you need the Order to Show Cause in your favor.
  • Temporary Order Granting You the Relief Requested: Once filed with the court for judges review, the order if granted will be signed by the family court judge
  • Proof of Service: After you file your request, you must serve copies of the request on the other parent and file a proof of service with the court.

When you file your request, the court will set the matter for hearing. If you are requesting a temporary child custody order, the court may also order you and the other parent to attend mediation. At the hearing, the court will decide whether or not to grant your request. In some jurisdictions, you cannot file papers asking for a short hearing unless a divorce has been filed. 

What If I Can’t Wait until the Hearing?

In emergencies, you may not be able to wait until your hearing. Though such situations are rare, some examples are:

  • The other parent has abducted the children
  • The children are being exposed to or are victims of domestic violence by the other parent
  • You need support to pay your necessary living expenses

If you need the court to make immediate orders, you can request a temporary emergency order (sometimes referred to as an “ex parte” order). The court usually decides temporary emergency orders within 48 hours of the request.
Depending on your jurisdictions rules and your request, the request may be decided with or without a hearing or with or without notice to the other parent.

Should I Seek an Attorney?

While temporary orders are not final, they should not be underestimated because they often play a large role in shaping the final order. To help you obtain your objectives at each stage of your family law case and help you obtain a temporary order for your family law case, you should consider contacting a family law attorney.