Updated on August 24, 2022
As you may know, the divorce process can be both expensive and time-consuming. It could be weeks, months, or even years (in extreme cases) from the date of filing an Original Petition for Divorce to the date when you and your spouse obtain the final divorce decree.
As you can guess, a divorcing couple is usually left in limbo before their divorce case is finalized. This is where temporary orders come in. These orders delineate how you and your divorcing spouse will proceed in the interim between filing for divorce and finalizing your divorce, and they represent critical decisions that set the tone for how your divorce is likely to proceed.
Obtaining a temporary order can be a complicated process, which is why it is advisable to consult with a Central Texas divorce attorney to understand how best to proceed in your specific case.
Common Reasons for Temporary Orders
When going through a divorce, spouses may not know what they can and cannot do with their property, finances, and minor children. Who will the children live with while the divorce case is pending? Who should stay in the marital home?
These and many other questions are addressed through temporary orders. As its name implies, a temporary order is effective for a temporary period of time (typically, until the judge issues a final decree of divorce). The purpose of a temporary order is to help spouses navigate their disputed issues while the divorce case is pending.
For example, if one of you is the primary breadwinner and the other stays home with the children, you may have to set up child support and spousal maintenance for the interim if the stay-at-home parent no longer has full access to family funds.
Under Texas Family Code § 6.502, either spouse has a right to file a motion to request a temporary order. If you are not sure what type of temporary order you need for your specific situation, consult with a knowledgeable lawyer.
A variety of issues can arise throughout the divorce process, but there are several matters that commonly require temporary orders. Any of these issues can have a significant effect on your and your children’s lives during the divorce process. (Read more about helping your children through divorce.)
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on these critical matters, the court can issue temporary orders that determine how you will proceed until your divorce is finalized. Temporary orders can address the following matters when a divorce is pending:
Your children’s temporary custody arrangements
Temporary arrangements related to parenting time or visitation
Temporary child support
Temporary spousal maintenance
The distribution of marital property that takes place before the divorce is finalized—for example, selling the marital home and dividing the proceeds
Allowing one spouse to stay in the marital home
Prohibiting one spouse from going anywhere near his or her spouse and the spouse’s primary residence, work, or children
Prohibiting one or both of the spouses to spend more than a court-ordered amount
Requiring sworn inventory and appraisement of the parties’ real and personal property
Determining who will pay the household and family-related bills
How to Get a Temporary Order in Texas
Follow these steps to obtain a temporary order during a Texas divorce:
File a motion with the court requesting a temporary order and stating the orders you are seeking.
Wait for the judge to sign your request and schedule a hearing.
Serve your spouse with the motion and order to appear for the hearing.
Prepare for the temporary orders hearing by collecting relevant evidence and preparing your arguments to present in front of the judge.
Contact an attorney to help you prepare for the hearing and represent your best interests at the hearing.
Attend the hearing with your attorney present.
Do not hesitate to contact our divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to help you obtain a temporary order in your divorce case. Our knowledgeable lawyers have helped thousands of clients in Texas get temporary hearings on their behalf.
Hammering Out Temporary Orders between Yourselves
You do not have to go before the court to obtain your temporary orders. In fact, you and your divorcing spouse can hammer them out between yourselves—with the help of your respective divorce attorneys. However, deciding temporary orders outside of court is only possible when the spouses agree on how to divide their rights and responsibilities while the divorce is pending.
Generally, judges approve temporary orders reached by agreement with two exceptions:
Judges will not accept temporary orders that are unfair.
Judges will not accept temporary orders that do not account for the best interests of the children.
Your attorney will help ensure that you obtain terms that protect your and your children's rights and that will allow you to move forward toward divorce with the necessary resources and arrangements. If negotiations between your attorneys do not resolve the issues, mediation very well may help you come to an agreement.
Even if you can reach an agreement regarding some of the issues related to your divorce, you may still need to ask the judge to issue a temporary order on other issues. However, working with your spouse outside of court and entering a temporary order by agreement can help you save money, time, and stress.
Deciding Temporary Orders in Court
If you simply cannot come to terms that you can both agree to, you will need to take up the issue with the court via a temporary orders hearing. At this hearing, you cede your decision-making power to the court, which is a roll of the dice. There is simply no way of knowing how the judge will rule on the matters you bring before him or her.
Your temporary hearing will be very much like a divorce hearing, and you should prepare accordingly. At the court hearing, both you and your spouse will be given an opportunity to present your arguments in front of the judge. Here’s what to expect when you go to family law court for a temporary order hearing in a Texas divorce case:
Both parties will make an opening statement.
Each party will testify and cross-examine the evidence presented by the opposing party.
Parties are allowed to present evidence such as documents, photographs, videos, and other pertinent information.
Both parties can bring their witnesses to testify.
The judge may want to speak with the child in child-related disputes.
Both parties will present closing arguments before the judge can render a decision.
With divorces involving children, the court always rules on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests. Unfortunately, the judge cannot understand your children’s needs the way you do. For this reason, it’s best to hammer out temporary orders between yourselves if possible. However, a spouse who refuses to cooperate can make this nearly impossible.
How Texas Judges Issue Temporary Orders
In Texas, judges have discretion when issuing temporary orders, which means the outcome of a court hearing can be quite unpredictable. A judge may exercise discretion when making the following decisions:
How to conduct the court hearing
Which spouses’ requests should be granted or rejected
Whether to require that the parties try mediation before the court hearing
There is no way of knowing how the judge will rule when issuing a temporary order in your case, which is why you should seek the legal counsel of an experienced Central Texas divorce attorney to help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Enforcing Temporary Orders in a Texas Divorce
The divorce process can be both emotionally and financially devastating, and you may need the court to issue temporary orders along the way. Such orders can be especially useful in helping you navigate the path toward divorce, but if your soon-to-be-ex does not abide by the orders, it can make things that much more difficult for you.
If you have obtained temporary orders, but your spouse is not complying with them, it makes an already difficult situation that much more burdensome for you. Unfortunately, you will have to turn again to the court and request a Motion to Enforce. Such a motion requests that the judge provide you with specific relief, which can include one or more of several orders:
To hold your spouse in contempt of court for violating the original order
To compel your spouse to comply with the terms of the original order
To oblige your spouse to compensate you for any losses you have incurred as a result of his or her failure to abide by the original order, including the attendant court costs and legal fees
To oblige your spouse to provide you with any other relief that is determined to be appropriate under the specific circumstances
The Burden of Enforcement
If your divorcing spouse does not comply with the temporary orders issued by the court, the burden is on you to request that the court addresses the situation. This means that you will face additional work, time, and legal costs in your effort.
While this situation is far from fair, all is not lost. The court does not look favorably on parties who fail to comply with temporary orders that it has issued, and this noncompliance will not go unnoticed when the court determines your final divorce decree.
If Your Spouse Is Not Complying with Temporary Orders, You Need a Central Texas Family Law Attorney
If your divorcing spouse refuses to comply with the court’s temporary orders, it makes things that much more difficult for you. It is important to remember, however, that—although the burden of enforcing compliance is on you—the court has mechanisms in place to help rectify the situation.
Schedule a consultation with our Central Texas divorce attorneys to discuss how you can obtain or enforce temporary orders in your particular case. Our lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard will protect your rights and best interests, ensuring a favorable temporary order in your case. Call us at (254) 781-4222 or contact us online for a FREE case review.