A divorce can take months; the most contentious ones may even drag on for a year or more. Many times, one of the parties cannot wait that long to start receiving spousal or child support. In these situations, you may need to file a request for a Temporary Order.
Types of Temporary Orders
You may request that the judge order temporary spousal support, child support, child custody, parenting time, or all of the above. Keep in mind that if you and your spouse are still living together, it’s highly unlikely a magistrate would grant a request for child support, child custody, or parenting time.
Temporary Spousal Support
Temporary spousal support is support or other orders issued while a divorce is pending; permanent spousal support is awarded in the final decree of divorce and typically limited to a specific number of months. The standard for temporary spousal support is different than permanent spousal support. Temporary spousal support is designed to maintain the status quo while the divorce is pending and can vary quite a bit depending on the county in which the case is filed.
Temporary spousal support may or may not count toward the permanent spousal support award, again, depending on the county. For example, if the term for permanent spousal support is three years, there is a chance that you could pay or receive temporary spousal support for up to a year without reducing the three-year term. Additionally, temporary spousal support can include orders for one party to continue to pay the mortgage and utilities or other expenses.
Temporary Child Support
While temporary spousal support is often calculated differently than permanent spousal support awards, temporary child support is calculated using the same Child Support Computation Worksheet as a permanent child support award. This is based not only on the number of children and the difference in the parties’ incomes, but also on parenting time, childcare costs, and other factors related to the children. But because custody, parenting time, and other factors can change in the final decree, child support can also change.
Proving the need for support
The court will not grant a request for temporary support without some evidence of need. Therefore, the court will rely almost entirely upon the affidavit of financial disclosure that you will file at the same time as your complaint for divorce. If you are on the receiving end of divorce papers, you should file the affidavit of financial disclosure along with your answer. It’s important that you are able to estimate your spouse’s income on this form so that the judge has some basis of income comparison. If you’ve overestimated, your spouse will have the chance to prove that when they respond, so do the best you can if the information is not easily available to you.
When children are involved
Child support awards are one thing, but what about custody or parenting time… issues that are not of a financial nature and perhaps more difficult to prove?
If you are seriously worried about the health and safety of your children when they are with the other parent, document the behavior that concerns you as best you can. Drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and mental or verbal abuse are all valid reasons you may want to limit the other parent’s time with the children. Social media posts can be a source of documentation, as can photographs and text messages, so make sure you are saving these things.
Concerns about the other party’s religious or medical beliefs may be a reason to request temporary custody. You may want to prevent the other parent from making medical decisions, so a temporary order of custody would be needed and provided to the children’s doctors. Again, you will need to have some type of evidence to show the court that there is a valid reason for your request.
Other Temporary Orders
In addition to support and child custody, the court has the power to issue other temporary orders that may be necessary. These are less common but can include things like:
granting one party exclusive use of the marital residence;
restraining a party from relocating the children while the case is pending;
restraining the parties from hiding, selling, or transferring assets, incurring debt in the name of the other party, cancelling health insurance, or changing beneficiaries.
Filing – and fighting – temporary orders
Either party can file a request for a temporary order at the same time they file for divorce. If your spouse is the one filing for divorce, you can request the temporary order in your response to the complaint.
Temporary orders are very important in a divorce case and should not be ignored. Temporary orders are often put into place based on the parties’ financial affidavits and the information in the initial pleadings. However, the court has the ability to modify temporary orders upon request by either party. This is typically done by asking for a hearing if one party believes the temporary orders are improper but can also be done if the circumstances of the parties change before the divorce is resolved. If you believe the temporary orders are improper, you have 14 days to provide a written request for an oral hearing. The court then has 28 days to schedule the hearing, and during this time you may still have to abide by the temporary order unless and until it is modified after the hearing.
It is important to note that the court does not want to litigate the entire case in temporary orders hearings. The information presented in temporary order hearings is often only a snapshot of all the facts of the case, so it is imperative that you choose the information to be presented carefully.
Don’t fear, Kirkland & Sommers is here!
Going through a divorce can be scary if you don’t know how you are going to survive without help from your spouse…or how you’re going to support two households if your spouse is the one requesting support. No matter which side of the divorce you are on, we are on YOUR side. Schedule a free consultation with a divorce lawyer at Kirkland & Sommers and let us help you get an equitable and fair divorce. Call or click today to talk to an attorney and know your rights!