What Are Temporary Orders?

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.
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