Temporary Orders - When, What, Why / by Cassandra Hearn

Making the decision to get divorced is difficult for many reasons, not least of which is because everyone understands that the beginning of a divorce can bring chaos. At the outset of the case, both spouses may be scrambling to establish a new household, readjust financial expectations, and ensure that the children are cared for and establishing a fair visitation schedule. To help reduce the amount of chaos at the beginning of a divorce, the California divorce process includes temporary orders. The purpose of temporary orders is to help stabilize the situation and help maintain the status quo while waiting for the final divorce order to be entered.

There are a couple of different types of temporary orders. One type is called the Automatic Temporary Restraining Order, commonly referred to as ATRO. ATROs come into existence when the divorce papers are initially filed. The purpose of the ATROs is to prevent either party from making big changes to the financial situation, such as selling assets, changing insurance, cutting off access to credit cards, or completely liquidating all of the parties’ accounts. Both parties are bound by the ATROs, so both parties need to be cautious throughout the case to not violate the ATROs, not just the defendant who is served with the divorce papers.

Another common type of temporary order can be requested by either party by filing a motion known as a Request for Order at any time during the litigation. These requests can range from asking the court to establish a temporary visitation schedule to asking the court to apportion the regular marital bills between the spouses. The court will hold a hearing and make a temporary determination on how the parties should handle these issues through the final hearing of divorce. Parties need to understand that they usually only get one change at a temporary hearing. Barring an emergency circumstance, courts are reluctant to revisit the issues for a temporary order. If there is an emergency circumstance, either party may file a request for ex parte relief, which means the court can make a court order without first holding a hearing. A hearing will be held shortly after the order is signed in order to determine if that order should stay in place. In order to obtain ex parte relief, there needs to be a true emergency, such as domestic violence or the imminent destruction of a marital asset.

The divorce process has many steps and you need an experienced attorney to help you. Call us today for an appointment at 619-800-0384 to talk about your family and your case.