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What Are Temporary Orders in a Separation or Divorce?

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What Are Temporary Orders in a Separation or Divorce?

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While a legal separation and a divorce are two different scenarios, in many cases temporary orders that both spouses are expected to comply with may be applicable. While separation is unique in that it is reversible and the couple remains married, it is similar to divorce in that the spouses typically have separate living situations, finances, and time spent with children and/or pets.

Whenever there is a need for a division of assets, temporary orders may be applied by the court until a long-term or permanent agreement can be reached. Temporary orders are intended to protect both parties, their assets, and their children from injustice during the period in which long-term decisions are still being made.

Temporary orders are placeholders while permanent orders are negotiated.

As implied by the word “temporary”, temporary orders are non-permanent placeholders used until the terms of the legal separation or divorce can be agreed upon by a judge and both parties. Temporary orders may be assigned by a judge or agreed upon by a couple in line with state family law restrictions.

Temporary orders typically address the most immediate concerns of a separation/divorce, like the handling of finances and child visitation. Temporary orders lay out clear guidelines which both spouses are expected to comply with; in fact, failing to abide by temporary orders can hurt a spouse’s chances at “winning” their case and getting what they want out of the divorce negotiations.

Temporary orders may be agreed upon by the spouses’ attorneys.

It is not always necessary for a judge to hand down the temporary orders to be applied to a family. If the attorneys for both parties can negotiate terms that both parties agree to, it may not be necessary for a judge to become involved. However, if an agreement regarding temporary orders can’t be reached outside of court, the spouses may go before a judge to argue their preference for the temporary orders, and the judge will assign orders to the case as they see fit. Regardless of how the temporary orders are decided, both parties will be expected to comply until final orders have been reached in or out of court.

Temporary orders only expire when a final order has been reached.

While it may be possible to amend temporary orders if additional concerns arise, the temporary orders will not expire until final orders have been reached. Final orders are binding, and while they can also be modified, the process for justifying the modification can be more difficult than for amending temporary orders.

If a spouse is concerned about any safety problems associated with temporary orders, such as visitation with an abusive spouse, they should speak to their attorney about the matter as soon as possible to see if the temporary orders can be amended to take this concern under advisement.

Temporary orders are binding.

While temporary orders are not the same as final orders, for the period in which the temporary orders apply, they are legally binding. This means that a spouse can be penalized for not following temporary orders and may have a harder time arguing for their preference when it comes to making the final orders. A judge is unlikely to look kindly on the argument of someone who disregarded a legally binding order, even a temporary one.

To learn more about temporary orders or to discuss your rights in a legal separation or divorce, reach out to a family law attorney in your area.

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