What Is a Domestic Order?

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 What is a Domestic Order?

A domestic order is a legal document issued by a court concerning family law proceedings such as divorce, dissolution of marriage, and legal separation hearings. It provides specific instructions on issues that were raised during the legal proceedings.

These instructions may include details such as which spouse is responsible for specific debts like credit card debt and taxes, how joint accounts or insurance packages are to be divided, whether shared children can be taken out of state, and the procedures to follow when doing so, prohibitions against hiding marital property or disposing of assets to reduce support payments, and prohibitions against harassment or stalking either spouse.

What Are the Types of Domestic Orders?

There are two main types of domestic orders: temporary domestic orders and permanent domestic orders.

Temporary Domestic Orders

Temporary domestic orders, also known as temporary restraining orders or TROs, are issued during the early stages of legal proceedings. These orders provide immediate and short-term protections to the victim while the court proceedings are ongoing. Temporary orders can address domestic violence, child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. They are meant to ensure that both parties follow the rules while the legal process is ongoing.

For example, if a spouse has a history of violence or abuse, the court may issue a temporary order of protection, prohibiting the abusive spouse from having any contact with the victim until the legal proceedings are resolved.

Permanent Domestic Orders

Permanent domestic orders, or final orders, are issued by the court after a final determination has been made on the underlying legal dispute. Permanent orders can address the same issues as temporary orders but provide long-term or permanent protections to the victim.

For example, in a divorce case, the court may issue a permanent order determining child custody and visitation rights, child support payments, spousal support payments, and property division.

The court can modify or enforce domestic orders if circumstances change or if one of the parties violates the terms of the order. In most cases, permanent orders are final and binding, and both parties must comply with the terms of the order.

Who Can File a Domestic Order?

In most cases, either spouse may file a domestic order. However, in some cases, such as when a victim is unable to file a domestic order due to physical or mental incapacity, a third party, such as a child’s guardian or a close relative, may also be able to file a domestic order on behalf of a victim.

It is best to consult with a family law attorney to determine the specific requirements and procedures for filing a domestic order in your state.

How is a Domestic Order Different from a Restraining Order?

A protective or restraining order is a legal document issued by a court for the safety of one party when the other party has caused harm. The order instructs the offender to either stop doing something or do something, such as staying a certain distance away from the victim or not contacting them at all.

Protective orders are frequently used in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and can also be issued to prevent emotional or economic harm.

While similar to domestic orders in that they provide instructions for individuals involved in a legal dispute, protective and restraining orders serve different purposes. Domestic orders establish rules to prevent harm before it occurs, while protective orders aim to stop the harm that has already occurred from happening again.

How Do You Get a Domestic Order?

A domestic order is typically issued as part of formal legal proceedings related to divorce or legal separation. It outlines the results of negotiations and legal analysis and establishes what the parties can and cannot do going forward.

The parties involved must first initiate divorce or separation proceedings to obtain a domestic order. An attorney can help navigate the court procedures and documents required for this process.

Parties may sometimes opt to create a separation agreement outside of court before or during the proceedings. This agreement terminates the right to cohabitate but doesn’t legally dissolve the marriage. It may include provisions for managing bills and debt, similar to a domestic order. The agreement can become legally enforceable if presented to a judge, who can finalize it into a domestic order.

What Happens if Domestic Orders Are Violated?

Domestic orders are legally binding court orders, and failure to comply with them may result in being held in contempt of court.

Here are a few examples of violations of domestic orders:

  1. Violating a Restraining Order: If the restraining order prohibits the offender from contacting or approaching the victim, but the offender violates the order by doing so, they may be held in contempt of court.
  2. Failing to Pay Child Support: If a domestic order requires one party to pay child support and fails to do so, they may be held in contempt of court.
  3. Refusing to Transfer Property: If a domestic order requires one party to transfer certain property to the other party and refuses to do so, they may be held in contempt of court.

Consequences for failing to comply with a domestic order may include the revocation of certain rights and privileges, such as child custody and visitation rights.

Once a judge signs a domestic order, it is generally considered final and enforceable by law. However, domestic orders can be modified in the future with a judge’s permission, provided that there is justification for the modification, such as changes in circumstances such as job loss, medical emergencies, or a move to a different state.

Additionally, if the parties involved have a change in financial status or need to modify child support or custody arrangements, a modification may be necessary.

What Else Should I Know About Domestic Orders?

Domestic orders may also be known as temporary domestic orders. These orders provide protection until the proceedings have concluded. If a matter arises during formal legal proceedings that need to be resolved immediately, one of the involved parties may request that the court grant a temporary domestic order.

Do I Need an Attorney for Help With a Domestic Order?

If you need a domestic order or have one reviewed, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled and knowledgeable family attorney. The divorce or separation processes are complicated, and family laws vary according to individual state laws. Domestic lawsuits involve filings, hearings, and sometimes intense negotiations.

An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your state’s specific laws and your rights and legal options. The attorney will ensure all necessary paperwork is filed on time and handle necessary motions or restraining orders.

If you need legal assistance with a domestic order or any other family law matter, consider using LegalMatch. LegalMatch can connect you with skilled and experienced family law attorneys in your area who can provide you with the guidance and support you need.

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