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Temporary Orders in Family Law

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What Are Temporary Orders in Family Court?

Family law cases such as divorce or child custody battles can take months or years to resolve. Of course, life continues during your case. Since the issues addressed in family court deal with everyday life, courts can issue temporary orders (sometimes called “pendent lite” orders) that remain in effect until judgment is entered or until they are modified.

Some temporary orders automatically trigger when a case is filed. Other temporary orders require that you file a request.

Automatic Temporary Orders

Temporary orders that may automatically trigger when a case is filed include orders preventing the parties from:

  • Taking the minor children out of the state without the other parent’s written permission or a court order
  • Cashing, borrowing against, cancelling or modifying life, health, auto, or disability insurance held for the benefit of the parties or the minor children
  • Transferring, mortgaging, hiding or disposing of real or personal property without the other party’s consent or a court order, except to pay for daily living expenses

Both parties may also be required to notify the other party of potential large expenditures ahead of time.

Common Temporary Orders

While automatic temporary orders generally prevent the parties from unfairly hurting the other, other temporary orders may require you to file a request. These orders can include requests for:

How to Request a Temporary Order

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

  • Filing a request at the beginning of the case when you file your petition or response, or
  • Filing a request at any time before judgment

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.

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.

At the hearing, the court will decide whether or not to grant your request.

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 Experienced 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, you should consider contacting a family law attorney.   

Photo of page author Brandon Rose

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-27-2014 12:48 PM PDT

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