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What Is a Domestic Order?

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What Is a Domestic Order?

A domestic order is a type of document that is issued by the court in connection with various family law proceedings. They are typically issued in connection with divorce, marital dissolution, or legal separation hearings. 

Domestic orders usually contain instructions regarding issues that were raised during the divorce or legal separation. They should not be confused with restraining orders or protective orders, which deal mostly with protecting the victim in domestic abuse cases.

What Does a Domestic Order Cover?

Domestic orders usually contain the final outcome of the various legal issues that were resolved during a divorce or separation lawsuit. These can include:

  • Which spouses are responsible for various forms of debt (such as taxes or credit card bills)
  • Instructions regarding joint accounts, joint insurance packages, shared credit cards, etc.
  • Whether the parties can take the children out of state, and if so, what procedures to follow when doing so
  • Prohibitions on hiding communal marital property or from disposing of assets to reduce support payments
  • Prohibitions on harassment or stalking of the other spouse

Thus, each domestic order will have different contents depending on the needs of the parties, as well as what was discussed during the proceedings. Also, each state may have different laws regarding divorce and separation. Issues regarding child custody, support, and visitation may be contained in a separate custody agreement, though sometimes such provisions are contained in a domestic order. 

How Is a Domestic Order Obtained?

A domestic order is usually issued as part of the formal legal proceedings in a divorce or legal separation. The results of negotiations and legal analysis may be formalized into the order that contains what the parties can and can’t do in the long run. The assistance of a lawyer is usually required for help with the filing and reviewing of the different court documents. 

In some cases, the parties may have formulated a separation agreement outside of court or before the proceedings began. These may not be enforceable until the parties present the agreement to a judge, who can then finalize them into a legally enforceable domestic order. 

What If a Domestic Order Is Violated?

Generally speaking, domestic orders that are signed by a judge are final and are enforceable under law.  They are usually subject to modification if needed in the future, but this must be done with the judge’s permission. Violations of a domestic order can result in legal consequences such being held in contempt of court. Also, certain rights and privileges can suffer due to a violation of a domestic order (like child custody and visitation rights).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Domestic Order?

If you need assistance in obtaining, reviewing, or challenging a domestic order, it may be in your best interests to contact a qualified family law attorney in your area. Your lawyer can provide you with legal guidance during court hearings, and can research the various laws in your area. Also, an attorney can provide assistance if you need help modifying a court order.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-25-2018 08:54 PM PDT

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