Temporary Orders in Family Court

Hand of a professional family psychotherapist writing notes in front of a couple with a child in a blurred background during a consultation

Depending on the complexity of the matter, a divorce case can take months — sometimes years — to go through the court system. But sometimes, you will need a prompt decision from a judge regarding issues such as who gets to live in the marital home, who can access the money in an account, or which parent has custody rights. When couples part ways, certain crucial issues can often be resolved with a hearing in court, rather than a full trial. These hearings are usually less formal than a trial and can allow you to obtain a temporary order from a judge that decides the issue in question.

What are Temporary Orders?

Family court temporary orders are a common mechanism used in divorce and family law matters. They can allow you to obtain a court ruling on a specific issue while the rest of your case proceeds through the court process. These orders are not meant to be permanent — they can help you move forward temporarily until all the information in your case has been gathered and the trial begins. They typically only remain in place until a final order has been issued by the judge.

Temporary orders may be requested for a variety of matters pending the outcome of a divorce. Requested relief can include the following:

  • Restraining a spouse from coming near the other
  • Establishing child custody
  • Providing for child support
  • Determining emergency custody matters
  • Obtaining temporary alimony

Temporary orders can help to eliminate uncertainty and financial difficulty while a divorce case is ongoing. When considering a temporary custody award, a judge in Missouri will consider the same statutory criteria as they would with a permanent custody order. This can include the wishes of the parents and child, the emotional needs of the child, the health of the parties, and any history of abuse or neglect.

Similarly, a court can enter an order to arrange for temporary financial support to ensure your family is able to make ends meet while the divorce action makes its way through the legal process. In addition to child support, a judge can also issue an order specifying who will be responsible for paying the mortgage, utility bills, and car payments, along with deciding temporary alimony matters.

How to Request Temporary Orders in Family Court

Requesting temporary orders in family court requires making a motion. This can allow you to obtain a court date within days or weeks, rather than wait several months. In cases involving an emergency, a hearing will typically be held within just a few days. Depending on the relief you are seeking, you may need to file an Order to Show Cause, a supporting affidavit, and a proposed temporary order. These documents must not only be filed with the court, but also served on the other party. Proof of service must be filed with the court.

The next step is to attend the court hearing where a judge will hear your argument and consider your request. These hearings are usually brief as they are very limited in scope. A judge will listen to your testimony, your spouse’s position, and consider any relevant evidence you present. The evidence you will need to show the court will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of your case. The judge may ask some questions before making their ruling.

If the judge grants the temporary order, it will last for a limited duration. Usually, in cases involving child support, custody, and alimony, the order will be in place until the divorce action has been finalized and a final determination has been reached. Spouses are free to work out a settlement regarding the temporary orders outside of court — if they agree that these orders should remain in place after the divorce has been finalized, a judge can sign off on the agreement and issue a permanent order. However, if spouses cannot reach an agreement on the issues, a judge will decide the outcome at trial.

Emergency Temporary Orders in Family Court

If you are at risk of imminent harm due to domestic violence, or your child’s welfare is threatened, it may be necessary to seek an emergency protective order to protect yourself from the abuser — or an emergency child custody order. Missouri law recognizes that there may be certain circumstances under which an emergency order should be issued. These types of orders may be obtained ex parte. This means the order can be obtained without the court hearing the other party’s argument.

However, emergency orders typically expire within 15 days unless the other party has had an opportunity to be heard in court. Once the judge hears from both sides in the case, they will decide whether the emergency order should be extended or dismissed.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Divorce and Family Law Attorney

The legal process to obtain temporary orders in family court can be complicated. It’s best to have a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure the best possible results. Divorce and family law attorney Mark A. Wortman provides skillful representation to clients in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area who are facing divorce and family law matters. To schedule a confidential consultation to learn how he can assist you with your case, please contact him today online or by calling (816) 523-6100.

Categories: Family Law