What are Temporary Orders?

When a divorce is filed, there is generally a need to determine what the various living arrangements are going to be until the case can get to trial (which in King county can be a year away, and more or less in other counties). In the mean time, the spouses may need answers to questions like: how are the bills going to get paid, who gets to live in the family home, and who will the child live with?

While some couples are able to work out these kinds of issues on their own, often one side will file a motion with the court asking for a decision on these issues pending trial – basically asking, “What do we do until we can reach a settlement?”

At a temporary order hearing, the court will typically deal with issues like:

  • Parenting – A temporary parenting plan will provide a residential schedule detailing when the children will be with each parent, as well as addressing things like joint decision making and transportation arrangements between the parents.
  • Child Support – A child support order will divide responsibility for the support of any children between the parents in proportion to their incomes.
  • Spousal Support – The court may reapportion income between the spouses to make sure both have adequate funds to meet expenses.
  • Property and Debts – There may be a need to determine who can live in the house, who has the use of a car or other community property, and who is responsible for what debts.
  • Restraining Orders – In some cases, such as when there has been violence between the parties, the court may need to enter orders requiring the parties to stay away from each other. The court may also need to freeze assets to protect them until they can be divided.

While the decisions made at this stage are only temporary arrangements for the short term, they can influence the final decisions as to the long term arrangements. For instance, the person who is living in the house on a temporary basis may have better odds of being the person able to keep the house long term, and a temporary parenting schedule creates at least some precedent for what the final parenting schedule might look like.