Temporary Orders in a Texas Divorce
Establishing Temporary Arrangements in a Divorce or Family Law Case
Divorce and other family law issues can involve sudden changes that require quick and immediate action, as well as the need to address temporary living situations, circumstances, and needs while a case unfolds. As such, Texas Courts provide individuals who need such arrangements (as well as the ability to legally enforce them) with an opportunity to obtain or petition for temporary orders.
These orders can address a range of matters involving in divorce and family law cases, including:
- Spousal support
- Temporary possession of property (i.e. vehicles and family homes)
- Temporary living arrangements / expenses and insurance coverage
- Child custody (conservatorship)
- Visitation (possession and access)
- Child support
- Suits affecting parent-child relationship
Temporary orders can serve as a critical stepping stone in divorce and family law cases, especially when they take time to resolve. They can also provide a sense of continuity and stability at times of substantial change, especially when children are involved.
While they may not necessarily predict what will happen in regard to the final divorce decree, they will have a significant impact on how you can navigate your legal journey as the process unfolds. As such, it becomes important to work with experienced attorneys like those at Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C. to protect your rights and interests from the very beginning.
How Temporary Orders Are Issued
Temporary orders can generally be issued in one of two ways:
As with nearly any divorce or family law matter, spouses, parents, or other parties can come to agreement out-of-court regarding their arrangements during when a case is pending. When both spouses voluntarily sign a temporary order, it can be filed with the court and signed by the judge. Obtaining a temporary order, even if spouses feel they can amicably agree and don’t need one, is a wise decision, as it allows for enforceability and prevents disputes or issues should a party change their mind or become upset at the divorce proceeds.
Temporary Order Hearings
When spouses can’t agree on arrangements during their case, many courts will require them to attend mediation prior to a hearing. If mediation does not work, a hearing will be necessary. Temporary order hearings are evidentiary in nature, which means both parties (and in some cases witnesses) will need to testify, be cross-examined, and provide evidence and arguments to the court.
These hearings focus on maintaining the status quo, addressing any pertinent issues (such as custody, visitation, and support when children are involved, temporary spousal support in a divorce, and even temporary possession of certain property), and making sure the estate and any debts or financial obligations are paid. Judges have a great deal of discretion over these hearings and the terms of a temporary order, and the temporary orders they issue cannot be appealed. In some cases, spouses or either party may contest a temporary order, especially in the immediate aftermath of a divorce filing or another family law case.
Contested temporary orders can make for additional challenges, which is why parties should carefully consider their options and ability to make concessions when possible, as it can return their focus on the ultimate resolution of their case, rather than any temporary matters.
Temporary Orders in Texas: What Can They Address?
Temporary orders can address a number of matters in Texas divorce and family law cases, provided that they are all temporary in nature.
Below, we discuss temporary orders, related court orders that may be involved in family cases, and why they are most commonly used:
- Divorce – Divorcing couples rarely choose to live under the same roof while going through the process of legally ending their marriage. As such, temporary orders in divorce cases can address a number of matters which require immediate attention, and ensure an estate is maintained while spouses live apart and until their case is finalized. This can include temporary possession of the family home or vehicle and temporary spousal support. Depending on the circumstances, temporary orders may also address payment of financial obligations such as the mortgage, utilities, taxes, health insurance, attorney’s fees, and other expenses, and the costs of education or vocational training. In terms of marital property (including both personal assets and business assets if a couple owns a family business), temporary orders may be used to require inventory or appraisement of assets, furnishing of documentation or records, and prevention of excessive spending, or to provide one spouse control over a shared business.
- Child Custody – Whether it involves a divorce or not, temporary orders over child custody arrangements focus only on creating a temporary arrangement while a case is pending, and which is in the best interests of the child. This can include decisions over where a child will primarily live as the case proceeds, and when the non-custodial spouse will have possession and access (visitation) to their child. Financial issues such as temporary child support and the child’s health insurance can also be addressed.
- Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) – Temporary Restraining Orders place short-term restrictions on individuals who, once they are served, are prohibited from engaging in certain actions, such as selling or destroying property, cancelling utilities, or disrupting a child’s routine. Unlike temporary orders, TROs do not require hearings and are only in effect for 14 days. TROs are typically used to maintain the status quo between the time a divorce or custody case is filed and the time a temporary order hearing is held.
- Protective Orders – Protective Orders address matters of domestic violence and abuse, and are intended to protect victims from individuals whom the court has determined pose danger. One of the key differences between a Protective Order and a Temporary Order is that a person who violates a Protective Order can be arrested by law enforcement, whereas violating a Temporary Order results in a potential contempt action that requires proper notice and a hearing.
Temporary order hearings in divorce, custody, and other family law cases are important proceedings, which is why meticulous preparation becomes vital to protecting your rights and interests in the interim of a pending case, and setting the momentum to secure a favorable outcome upon its resolution. While these hearings are distinctly different from any final trial, they are formal proceedings that require carefully tailored and structured testimony, evidence, and arguments to support your stance.
Comprehensive Representation for Temporary Orders & Your Case
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C., our Houston family law attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of temporary order, TRO, and protective order matters for individuals and families across Texas, including petitions for temporary orders, alleged violations, and disputes or modifications.
Because these matters are part of a bigger picture, enlisting the support of proven attorneys like those at our firm can help you address all issues pertinent to your case, and help you navigate the process toward the best possible outcome.
Learn more about temporary orders or discuss a potential divorce or family law case personally with an award-winning attorney from our firm. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to get started.