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Temporary Orders

Texas Temporary Orders

What is a Temporary Order?

A Temporary Order is an order that governs during the pendency of your family lawsuit. Family law cases can take time to reach a resolution. While your case is waiting to be finished, it may be important to develop rules and expectations for the litigation.

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What Does a Temporary Order do?

A Temporary Order can cover many different things. In a suit that involves children, whether it is a divorce, suit affecting the parent-child relationship, or modification, a Temporary Order can establish conservatorship, possession and access, child support, and provisions regarding insurance. A Temporary Order will tell the parties where the child will live, who can make certain decisions about the child, who is going to see the child and on what conditions, and even what the child support amount will be.

A Temporary Order in a divorce can also provide spouses structure by establishing who lives where, who pays what bills, and who may pay or receive temporary support. The Temporary Order may also provide for certain tasks that need to be completed like performing an appraisal on a business, obtaining a home or real estate appraisal, or even establish deadlines for inventory and appraisement exchanges.

How Do I Get a Temporary Order?

There are three ways to obtain a Temporary Order:

  1. By agreement between parties
  2. Through a Mediated Settlement Agreement
  3. By court order

First, you can obtain a Temporary Order by agreement. If you and the other party can agree to provisions for a Temporary Order, you can simply draft the agreement and submit it to the court for approval.

The second way to obtain a Temporary Order is through mediation. Mediation is required by most Courts prior to a hearing in front of the Judge. Before the Court makes a decision about a person’s property or children, the Judge may require mediation. The goal of mediation is to have two spouses or two parents work together to create an agreement that is best for their life.

Mediation is a tool that helps achieve settlement. Mediation occurs with an individual who does not represent you or the other party. We call that individual the Mediator. The Mediator attempts to facilitate an agreement by the parties, who are in separate rooms. If the parties reach an agreement, they sign a Mediated Settlement Agreement or MSA. That MSA is then turned into a Temporary Order that the Judge signs.

The third and final way to obtain a Temporary Order is through Court. Remember, the Court will likely require mediation before making a Temporary Order. However, if you and the Other Party went to mediation and were unsuccessful, then the Court will allow you to present your case. After testimony, evidence and a lengthy court proceeding, the Judge will rule and create a Temporary Order.

What Happens at a Temporary Orders Hearing?

At the Temporary Orders hearing, both parties will provide testimony and tell their story. Witnesses may be called and any documents that are relevant to the proceedings will be taken into consideration. At this hearing, it is important to tell the Judge what you are asking for and why.

It is important to note that many Judges have time limits for a Temporary Orders hearing. To determine if your Court has a time limit, you will want to look at the court’s policies and procedures, which usually can be found online. In some Harris County courts, Temporary Orders hearings have a two-hour time limit. That means that each party has one hour to present their case. It is important to be prepared for this hearing and know what you are going to discuss given the time constraint.

How Long Does My Temporary Order Last?

A Temporary Order lasts until further order by the Court or until the parties reach another agreement. In most cases, a Temporary Order will last until the final order – either a Final Decree of Divorce (the document that divorces spouses) or Final Order in Suit Affecting or Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship (the final document in a custody case).

Every case is different so there is no way to know exactly how long the Temporary Order could last. It could be a few months or more than a year. The duration will depend on the individualized facts and circumstances of each case.

Can I Change My Temporary Order?

There may be instances where a party wants to modify their Temporary Order. In order to do this, a party must file a Motion to Modify the Temporary Orders. It will then be up to the Court to determine if there has been a significant change in circumstances and that the Temporary Order requires modification. Sometimes it may not be practical to modify the Temporary Order because the parties could just enter into a Final Order and finish the case.

For example, if one party has a history of alcohol abuse, the parties may enter into a Temporary Order that requires that party to submit to a breathalyzer test before possessing the child. If that party utilized the breathalyzer for a year and never blew positive for alcohol, he or she may attempt to modify the terms around possession the child.

Why Do I Need a Temporary Order?

There can be many reasons a party may want or need a Temporary Order. In a case involving children, a Temporary Order may be needed to test out a custody arrangement. It could even be used just to establish a schedule or routine for the child.

In a divorce case, a Temporary Order will allow the parties a sense of structure while entering into the discovery phase. The discovery phase of a case is when a party requests documents or answers to questions. You can read more about the discovery phase of a case here.

Is a Temporary Order Right for My Case?

Sometimes a Temporary Order might not be necessary. If parties are in complete agreement on what they want in a Final Decree of Divorce or if they are getting a long during the duration of the litigation, they may not need a Temporary Order. In other circumstances, a Temporary Order may be necessary. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets or you would like to test out a possession schedule, then a Temporary Order would be useful.

To know if a Temporary Order is right for you, contact one of our attorneys to discuss the facts unique to your case.

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