The Importance of Temporary Orders

A temporary order is essentially a blueprint to follow to keep everything as normal and as safe as possible while you await your divorce to become finalized. The relief that may be granted may feel unfair to one party, and can cause resentment and conflict, but the word to keep in mind is “temporary.” Court dockets are packed and depending upon your particular issues, it could be a little while before a judge is able to hear your case in full. A temporary order is the judicial system’s way of giving you time to try to sort out some of your disagreements – even reconcile – before asking a judge to make life-altering decisions for you.

Temporary hearings are typically scheduled pretty early on after litigation begins. Divorce is stressful and tempers can easily flair along the way. While trying to sort through all of the divorce details, the best thing that you can do for yourselves to make the process easier is to abide by the temporary order once it’s in place. In the meantime, you will have an opportunity to mediate your case in an attempt to settle some of the issues addressed by the temporary order.

The issues most commonly requiring temporary relief include child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, use of the marital residence and vehicles, and sometimes mutual restraining orders as to marital property.

The primary takeaway is that temporary relief is just that – it’s guidance to follow for only for a brief period. These orders can also be modified based upon showing a substantial change in circumstances.

Take a look at the issues commonly dealt with in a temporary order:

Child support

Child support is almost always awarded to the parent who receives primary custody of the children. The calculation is based upon the number of children between you and your spouse, your respective incomes, and who covers costs such as health insurance and daycare. You will be required to submit a financial declaration to prove your income on which your child support is based. Should your income decrease while under the temporary order, you can ask to have your support obligation lowered. However, if your intentional actions result in the decrease, you’re unlikely to succeed.


Alimony is a needs-based award for financial support. It is wholly separate from any award of child support. A spouse who receives child support is not automatically guaranteed alimony. The judge will determine spousal support based upon factors that show whether a spouse is unable to be self-sufficient.

Child custody and visitation

Stability for your children is paramount during a divorce and your children wind up being one of the most hotly contested areas of most divorces. The court will take all of the available evidence into consideration in making a decision as to which parent should retain primary custody during the pendency of your divorce action. Unless there are allegations related to abuse or other behavior that may jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of the children, the other parent will receive visitation, which can vary case to case.

Marital residence and vehicles

Exclusive use of the marital residence virtually always coincides with whomever is going to be awarded temporary primary custody of the children. In order to avoid more disruption than necessary to the children’s lives, courts tend to have them remain in the home they grew up in due to its familiarity. It also helps to maintain a more normal daily routine. If no children are involved, the court may look at other factors to decide which party should remain living in the home pending the final hearing. The health and financial ability of each party is typically a determinant of who should reside in the marital residence. When it comes to automobile use, absent a legitimate reason not to, the judge routinely orders that each party keep the vehicle he or she regularly drives. Which party pays for the vehicle and its upkeep may depend upon the parties’ finances.

Mutual restraining orders

When a couple knows they’re headed for divorce, one or both parties may begin to prepare for the storm to come by hiding money or engaging in other activities to protect their respective financial positions. Because the marital estate will need to be equitably divided during a divorce, sometimes a judge may be willing to grant mutual restraining orders as to disposing of or diminishing the value of marital property. This means that nobody can sell, give away, or otherwise eliminate marital property because you each have an ownership interest in everything you bought, saved, or invested in during your marriage.

Divorce is rarely easy. You need a trusted family law attorney to help lead you through the mine field of legal issues and emotions that accompany every divorce. The right attorney helps make the divorce process more seamless and bearable for you and your children. Our attorneys’ expansive knowledge of family law allows us to protect the interests of our clients both inside and outside the courtroom. To schedule your consultation with one of our stellar Fulton divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A., call 443-812-1435, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form. We maintain additional offices in Rockville, Columbia, and Bethesda.