Temporary Orders

The goal of any family law case is to find some stability at the end of a period of change and upheaval. When a decision has been made, either by the court at the end of litigation, or an agreement between the parties, the goal is to have an order that establishes guidelines by which everyone involved can live with some stability. However, if after all the trouble of getting to the point of having a decision in a case, if the parties’ order does not meet the standards of a permanent order, it will be much easier for everyone involved to be brought back into the litigation process.

Differences between Temporary and Permanent Orders

An order is temporary if either, (1) it is entered without prejudice to either party; (2) it states a clear and specific reconvening time in the order and the time interval between the two hearings was reasonably brief; or (3) the order does not determine all the issues. Simply labeling an order permanent will not bind a court, but instead the court will look to the substance of the order to determine if it falls into one of the above categories.

If the court considers an order to be temporary, the procedural grounds for which a case can be brought back into court are much lower than if the order was permanent. When the court has entered a permanent order for an issue such as child custody, the order will govern the parties’ interactions unless one of them can show a substantial change in circumstances. The only way to get the court to consider changing a permanent order is to find a way to reach the high bar of demonstrating a substantial change in circumstance. However, if an order is only temporary, the court is not forced to find a substantial change in circumstance to change the order. The court has the discretion to make a new ruling, and is not bound by the previous order. Assuming the temporary order has not a) expired by its own terms or operation of law, or b) become a permanent order by passage of time and/or operation of law.

Examples of Temporary Orders

For example, if an order contemplates future litigation, meaning it sets forth specific events upon which the parties will be brought back into court, the order will be seen to be temporary, and the court will not be bound by the substantial change threshold. This situation falls into the first factor that can make an order temporary, that it was entered without prejudice to a party. An order being entered with prejudice to a party means that the party loses their right to bring the case back into court on the same facts and issues. If an order is entered with prejudice, meaning it qualifies as a permanent order, the case is finished and the issues determined on the facts presented to the court, or by agreement of the parties. In order to bring a case bound by a permanent order back into court, a party must meet the substantial change threshold.

Another example of an order that will be considered temporary, is one that sets forth a specific time for the case to be reconvened. An example of this is if the court wants to review a party’s progress on something like mental health evaluations, or drug abuse treatment. If the court states a specific time that it is going to re-open the case to once again look at the issues, the order will be temporary.

The final factor that can make an order temporary is that it does not determine all of the issues. For example, if a child custody order does not set forth a long-term plan for visitation on holidays, the court will see the order as only setting forth an intermediate solution, and that it does not determine all of the issues. This means the order will be temporary, and the parties will not be get the benefit of a more concrete determination a permanent order provides.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney about your Temporary Order

The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are experienced in both guiding cases through the process of litigation to get to the point of having a court order and advising clients as to the nature of orders drafted by previous attorneys. Whether you are moving into the divorce process and looking for guidance on how to move towards the stability that comes with finishing the divorce process, or if you have previously gone through a divorce and are concerned as to the finality of your case, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can provide guidance and advice to help you move toward the peace of mind that should accompany the end of a divorce case.

Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a consult today with one of our experienced family law attorneys.