Questions About Family Law Temporary Orders
What is a family law temporary order?
A temporary order is a court order that provides a person certain rights and/or protections before the completion of a divorce, separation or parentage action. A party may request a temporary order at any time between the time the Summons and Petition is filed and the day the proceeding becomes final.
To obtain a temporary order, a party must file a Motion for Temporary Orders, other necessary pleadings as required by court rules such as declarations to support the motion, prepare proposed orders and provide the other party with adequate advanced notice to respond to the motion. The amount of notice a party must provide prior to the hearing on temporary orders varies from county to county.
Do I need a temporary order?
To evaluate whether one should seek a temporary order, consider the following questions:
- Are you happy with the way things are going right now without the temporary order? Do you need to ask the court for help to require the other party to do something, or to stop doing something?
- Do you require a temporary parenting plan to determine how much time the children will spend with you or the other party until the divorce is completed? Until there is a court order, each parent has an equal right to residential time with the children.
- Do you need restraining orders that require the other party not to harass or come near you?
- Do you need restraining orders to prevent another parent from taking the children out of state?
- Do you need restraining orders that prevent the other party from giving away or selling property, or taking out loans in both of your names, or taking your name off of insurance policies?
- Do you need orders for temporary child support, maintenance (spousal support), attorney’s fees, or use of property (such as a house or car)?
- Do you need an order that permits you to live in the family home and to remove the other party from the family home?
- Do you want the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL) or parenting evaluator to do an investigation and make recommendations to the court about which parent the children should live with and whether the other parent poses a risk to the children? If you have responded in the affirmative to any of the above questions, you should seriously consider seeking temporary orders.
If I have an emergency and need an immediate temporary order, what can I do?
The period between when the opposing party is served and the hearing date there will exist no order for residential time with the children or spouse. If this is of concern which could result in irreparable harm to you or your children, you may want to consider obtaining a temporary restraining order and order to show cause through an ex parte hearing.
If the situation is serious, we highly recommend you call our office immediately to seek legal representation and assistance.
What do I need to seek financial relief on a temporary basis?
In King County, a party seeking financial relief such as maintenance or child support must file a financial declaration signed under penalty of perjury as well as filing under seal the following financial documentation:
- Pay stubs for the past six months. If a party does not receive pay stubs, other documents shall be provided that show all income received from whatever source, and the deductions from earned income for these periods;
- Complete personal tax returns for the prior two years, including all Schedules and all W-2s;
- If either party owns an interest of 5% or more in a corporation, partnership or other entity that generates its own tax return, the complete tax return for each such corporation, partnership or other entity for the prior two years;
- All statements related to accounts in financial institutions in which the parties have or had an interest during the last six (6) months. “Financial institutions” includes banks, credit unions, mutual fund companies, and brokerages.
- If a party receives or has received non-taxable income or benefits (for example, from a trust, barter, gift, etc.), documents shall be provided that show receipts, the source, and any deductions for the last two (2) years.
While King County’s local rules are more detailed, both Snohomish and Pierce Counties also require a party to file a financial declaration and submit financial documentation as well.
Can I seek temporary orders by myself?
Obtaining temporary relief can be a very complicated process. There are a lot of documents that need to be prepared, including declarations, financial documents, and proposed orders. Local rules can be complicated and require parties to submit specific documentation in order to obtain certain relief.
If you represent yourself and do not obtain the temporary relief you are seeking (or trying to prevent), you may not be able to go back to court immediately if you later decide to hire an attorney unless there have been some substantial changes of circumstances. Importantly, often temporary orders (including a parenting plan, support orders and restraints) can have a huge impact on the entire case and influence an eventual result.
While it is possible to seek a temporary order on your own, we do not recommend navigating the system without experienced counsel. Call our office for a consultation about your situation.