Domestic Violence Temporary Orders

Effective Temporary Orders in Domestic Violence Cases

Most lawsuits are not quickly resolved.  It can take months or years to settle a dispute.  But you may not have that kind of time if you have filed for divorce.  Immediate decisions need to be made pertaining to custody of the children and which parent can use the vehicle, stay in the house, or access bank accounts.  Even if you have resolved these issues, you may need financial support from the other spouse.  These issues can be quickly addressed with a temporary order from the courts.

When a divorce or separation petition is filed, both parties can participate in a brief hearing in which a judge decides these issues on a temporary basis.  Because these hearings are short, it is critical you are prepared to provide as much information to the judge detailing your position on child custody, spousal support, and property division.  The judge may only grant you minutes to make your case.

Either spouse can request a temporary order to:

  • Prevent one spouse from contacting the other (of course, restraining orders also mean that one spouse must leave the house)
  • Determine who has custody of the child and establish a preliminary visitation schedule
  • Receive child or spousal support payments
  • Prevent the sale of property or assets by either spouse
  • Get possession of the home or vehicle

Temporary orders remain in effect until a final settlement is reached.  This can occur after the spouses participate in arbitration or go to trial.

The Right Time to Request a Temporary Order

It is common for one spouse to move out of the family home once a divorce petition has been filed. At this point, you can approach the situation in two ways.  You can amicably agree on a settlement that details child custody and visitation arrangements as well as money issues such as expenses and financial support. You are permitted to create a temporary agreement on your own while you work to resolve other disputes arising from the divorce.  If you are unable to do this, you will need to let the courts decide for you.  Do this as soon as possible to prevent further complications.  It is unlikely the parent who left the home will be granted child custody. The parent temporarily awarded custody of the children should request child support from the other parent.

You accomplish two things when you do this.  To begin with, since the children live with you, you will be given sufficient child support from the start.  The court will probably give you physical custody of the children which is the first step to getting legal custody after the divorce is settled.  And, you are protected from your spouse claiming you kidnapped the children. This may not seem like a big issue to you but the reality is that people going through divorces can take extreme measures against spouses to obtain custody of children.  In this case, the temporary order is proof that you are within your rights to have the children.  So even if your spouse reports parental kidnapping to the police, any charges that result will be dismissed.

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