Temporary Order Modification / by Cassandra Hearn

The beginning of a divorce comes with a lot of important steps, including drafting the petition, filing the paperwork, and serving your spouse. In many cases the next step may be to request temporary orders while you await a trial. A temporary order, also called a "pendente lite" order, allows a court to establish temporary orders that will be in effect until the end of the divorce, or until further order of the court. These orders may include a division of who pays which marital bills, custody and visitation orders, child support, and spousal support. These orders are intended to be temporary by their very nature, and are often subject to change at the final hearing. In some circumstances, it may be necessary for one or both parties to request a modification to the order before the final hearing occurs. The type of modification requested will have a large bearing on the way a request to modify an order will be handled. 

Child custody or visitation orders are always dictated by what is in the best interest of the child. This is also true when requesting a modification of a temporary order. Unlike a request to modify a permanent custody order, there is no need to prove a material change in circumstances. Although the bar is lower than modifying a permanent order, that does not mean that it will necessarily be easy to get a court to modify a temporary custody order. Divorce is a chaotic time, and courts are reluctant to make more changes for a child than is necessary.

Support orders are also modifiable. These changes must be unanticipated and materially change the basis for the court’s temporary orders. In other words, the requesting spouse cannot voluntarily quit his or her job as a means to avoid a temporary support order. Likewise, a temporary dip in income as a result of a poor sales commission month is also inadequate. The spouse requesting a reduction should remember that the temporary order is only temporary, and if the divorce will be finalized soon, it may not be worth the money paid in attorney’s fees to go back to modify the temporary order, only to have the final ordered shortly thereafter. However, some divorces carry forward for very long periods of time, and a temporary order that is no longer bearable may need to be changed.

You need an experienced attorney to help you through every step of your divorce, including the temporary orders. Call us today for an appointment at 619-800-0384 to discuss your goals both for the long-term and while your divorce is pending.