When a couple gets a
divorce, the ensuing court proceedings can take anywhere between a few months
to several years, depending on the complexity of the issues before the
court. In particular, the court will hold a trial on issues such as property
division, custody, and spousal or child support. While the court conducts
proceedings on these issues, it has the power to make temporary orders
on those issues. This article explains the purpose and nature of temporary orders.
What Is the Purpose for Issuing Temporary Orders?
California courts have the authority to issue temporary orders to preserve
the parties’ status quo. This gives the parties a fair chance to
litigate the issues before the court, so one party is not prejudiced by
the circumstances of separation. Parties typically request the court to
issue temporary orders before the trial begins. In other areas of law,
the procedural tool for asking the court to do something is called a “motion.”
In California, motions in family court are called “requests for
order” or RFO for short.
Temporary Spousal Support
In divorces where one spouse was primarily or solely responsible for providing
the family with financial security, the other spouse has a distinct disadvantage
during divorce litigation. Because divorce proceedings can be expensive,
the court may require the wealthier spouse to pay temporary
spousal support to the financially disadvantaged spouse. Thus, temporary spousal support
can function to level the proverbial playing field, so one spouse doesn’t
have to worry about paying their bills in addition to attorney’s fees.
In many cases, there just isn’t enough money available between the
parties to preserve the lifestyle to which each spouse grew accustomed
during their marriage. As a result, couples should prepare to tighten
their belts during a divorce and sacrifice things they might have enjoyed
in their pre-divorce life.
Temporary Child Support
California family courts have the power to order both parents to pay
child support pending divorce proceedings. Because California law provides specific
guidelines for calculating necessary child support, the amount a spouse
is obligated to pay will be necessarily the same as the court’s
final divorce decree. A request for temporary child support typically
accompanies a temporary custody order request. The nature and extent of
a child support obligation depend on the configuration of custody. A parent
with sole or primary child custody is responsible for taking care of the
child. Accordingly, custodial parents will receive child support from
the noncustodial payment in place of their presence to take care of the
child as divorce proceedings progress.
Temporary Child Custody
Assuming the parties had already separated when the divorce was filed,
courts will issue a temporary
child custody order to minimize the negative impact caused by the separation. In cases
of extreme emergency, a court may issue a temporary custody order without
a hearing. The court is not required to hear the party against whom the
order was sought before issuing the order. Thus, emergency orders for
temporary child custody are considered “ex parte” orders –
which is Latin for “from a party (without the other party).”
Changing Temporary Orders
Because temporary orders primarily serve to maintain the status quo pending
divorce proceedings, both parties may request the court to modify such
rules at any time during the proceeding. However, an RFO seeking modification
or termination of temporary spousal or child support cannot “rewrite”
or “undo” a payment that was already made or became due. Modification
only affects amounts that accrue after the new order comes into effect.
Proudly Service Westlake Village Families
Are you going through a difficult divorce? If so, the Law Offices of Jeffrey
S. Graff can help. Our Westlake Village divorce attorney has over 35 years
of experience practicing
family law in California. We understand the importance of requesting or contesting
temporary orders during a divorce and how it can impact the dynamics of
future proceedings. Our legal team, led by Attorney Graff, is dedicated
to giving you and your family a voice throughout your divorce. Whether
it is a simple
uncontested divorce, or a complex
high-asset divorce, we will guide through each step of the divorce process so you can rest
assured that you and your family’s best interests are in good hands.
Call us at (805) 633-4999 or
contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff online today to schedule a free case evaluation today.