After weeks, months, maybe years of thought, you’ve decided to file for divorce. Now what? Getting married (legally, excluding wedding planning) is an extremely fast procedure compared to divorcing. The thought of what’s coming next may be terrifying. Fortunately, there’s a tool in the law to help you get through the interim period between filing and entering the final decree, and it’s an entry of Temporary Orders.
When filing for divorce, in many counties across the country, a “standing order” might take place. This order usually prevents either party from seriously affecting the marital estate (for example, neither party could spend $20,000 on a boat, or sell a house). But, what about your day-to-day life? Who will pick up the kids from school? Who will stay in the marital residence? Who will pay child support? These are important questions that need answers earlier than the entry of a decree. Enter, Temporary Orders.
“Temporary” might be a slight misnomer, because temporary orders can last anywhere from days to years, depending on the case. They can cover any of the following issues, and even more:
- Who lives in the marital home
- Who pays child/spousal support (and how much)
- Who pays for specific expenses (extracurriculars, utility bills, cell phone, etc.)
- Who sees the children and at what times
- Where the children are allowed to live (and not allowed to go)
Perhaps you’re a single mother who’s worried about filing for divorce because you’ve heard that divorces can take years, and you can’t be without an income for that long. Temporary Orders can ensure that you are provided with the necessary support during that crucial time period. Perhaps you’re a father who’s worried that if you file for divorce, your child’s mother won’t let you see the child at all. Temporary Orders will ensure that you have access to your child while you go through the process.
Of course, having something on paper is unimportant if you can’t do anything with that paper. The good thing about Temporary Orders is that they are signed by a judge, and act as official court orders, making them as enforceable as a Final Decree of Divorce would be. They usually last until a further order is made by the Court, and can also be changed if new circumstances require it.
In order to obtain Temporary Orders, your attorney would file a Motion for Temporary Orders, which usually leads to a hearing, where the judge will determine the best way to split the estate, possession and access of the children, or any issue that may need a resolution before a final agreement can be made in the divorce.
For many people, fear of instability is a factor that prevents them from filing for divorce. In Texas, there’s a mandatory 60-day waiting period between filing and finalization of a divorce. Other states require even longer periods. Going that long without anything on record can be frightening. Temporary Orders are an invaluable tool that can quell the fear and allow life to continue as normally as possible while in the divorce process.
Though temporary, usually these orders can provide a great foundation for a permanent decree to follow. If you have filed, or are thinking of filing, for divorce, talk to your attorney about Temporary Orders to see if they’re right for you.
By: Zak Martinez