So, after you’ve done your budget and you’ve talked about the parenting situation for your family, you want to think about asking the court and in some places this is actually automatic to put what are called financial restraints in place. And what that means is that you’re restrained form doing certain things in the financial world between you and your ex. And things that are common are that you can’t change the health insurance policy or you can’t change a life insurance policy car insurance has a lot to do with insurance.
Or you can’t go if you have a big saving account, the court might put a financial restraint and say nobody’s going to touch that savings account without a court order. So. that’s something that will be divided later on. So you don’t necessarily assume that just because you have $10,000 in your bank account, that that’s money that you can use to spend, because the court might put a financial restraint on that. So if you feel like you’re going to need to use money that’s in your savings account to.
Get you through this time period, that’s something you want to tell the court about. You want to ask the court for permission to maybe supplement your income with your savings. That would be a situation where you don’t have quite as much money as your ex. Or he doesn’t have enough money to pay you the amount of alimony that you need to make the house payments over that time period. I’m not recommending you do that, because as you know, I can’t practice in any state but the state of Washington, but you need to think about those things as.
You go through this temporary orders process. So, after you’ve presented your budget, and after you’ve presented your parenting situation, let’s say there’s absolutely no agreement about the parenting. You think the kids should be with you. He thinks the kids should be with him. So now what are you going to do Well it’s usually at that hearing that the court will appoint some sort of custody expert and sometimes they’re called a guardian ad litem, sometimes they’re called a parenting evaluator. Other times they’re called a child custody expert, or case manager. Different.
States and different counties call them different things, but at the end of the day, generally speaking, their job is to help do an investigation and come up with a recommendation to the court and we have a whole tutorial on that but this is. what you need to know is sometimes it’s at the temporary orders hearing, where the court makes a decision about saying, we’re going to hire one of these people going to appoint one of these people to come and figure out what’s best for this family. So at that hearing you kind of want to be.
Prepared for that as a possibility and especially if you’re in a highly contentious case where there’s very little agreement either you’re going to be representing yourself or your lawyer is going to be there, but it. you need to be thinking about the appointment of a special expert to help figure out the child custody situation in your case. Another thing that is often addressed at a temporary orders hearing is if there’s some kind of concerns about either you or your ex. An example of concern would be that maybe.
You think that your ex drinks too much or is smoking weed, or there’s a problem about domestic violence. You really want to bring those up to the attention of the court at some point. Because if you ignore those at the temporary order hearing this is what sometimes happens I’ll have a client and she’ll say, I really don’t want to talk about this alcohol problem because it’ll really make him mad. But at the same time, if there is a problem and you don’t mention it at this hearing and then a month later, the custody.
Expert is evaluating your case and you say, oh, by the way, he drinks a sixpack of beer every night. And they’ll say, why didn’t you say that back here And they start to think maybe you’re making up this alcohol allegation as some sort of legal strategy. So I’m not saying whether you should or shouldn’t raise it at the temporary orders hearing, but I am saying that that’s something you need to think about, and you really want to talk to your lawyer about. your legal strategy how do you want to disclose that And.
Whether you want to disclose it. Domestic violence is an issue that is often raised at temporary orders hearings and that’s something that’s really can have a whole other layer into a divorce if there’s a domestic violence problem. The courts are every concerned about that and sometimes at the temporary orders hearing, they’ll actually put restraining orders in place or even protection orders, because they want to make sure you’re kept safe and there’s no contact between you and your husband. So domestic violence is something you want to think about and.
Often times, the court will send the person who’s being accused of being domestically violent goes off for an evaluation at that point. If there’s a drug or alcohol problem, often times, the court will send the person who’s being accused off for a drug or alcohol evaluation. Sometimes they’ll actually send people right out of a courtroom to a drug and alcohol like a urinalysis test or hair follicle test. They’ll say, You go within five hours or 24 hours of this hearing and you have a drug test..
So, this is something you have to think about. If you, yourself, have a problem with alcohol, or if you’ve been using illegal drugs, you want to think about the timing for when you file a motion for temporary orders. Because that could be you that gets sent off to have the hair follicle test or have a blood or urinalysis test and you need to be aware because if you think that’s something your ex is going to raise at this hearing, then you want to be ready with how you’re going to deal with that problem.
So there are a lot of factors that go into the timing of a temporary hearing, and there are a lot of factors that goes into the evidence that’s presented at that temporary hearing. So there’s another way that sometimes people handle these temporary orders hearings and here’s why. Things can get ugly surprise, surprise in a divorce. And sometimes when you’re in a temporary orders hearing, and you’re in court, you’re in open court and whatever you file there is going to be in the public record. And if you think about.
It maybe someday your kids will have access to that public record and maybe you’re saying some pretty nasty things about each other. In some places you can go to what’s called private arbitration and you can have a private arbitrator act just like a judge and make some of those same decisions for you. And sometimes that’s a good idea because some people don’t really want to have to say all the stuff out in the public record that might affect someone’s job in the future, or the kids can find it in the future. So sometimes.
You want to think about a private arbitrator it’s more expensive, but it’s a lot more private and it keeps more of your personal family information private. Some places you can’t use a private arbitrator for temporary orders and other places you can. So that might be something that you want to look into. And along those same lines, while you’re putting information in the court file, you have to think about how this is going to affect you both in the future. Like, who’s going to have access to this, because it’s usually public record and it’s usually pretty easy to find.
not necessarily online everyplace, but you can find this stuff. So you want to think about you present things. And that’s going to take us full circle back to back to this idea of having a vision for your divorce. And that’s where you want to talk to your divorce team. you really want to think about how you want to be in this process. And what is your vision and maybe you want to come up with a vision for your temporary situation this temporary period of time. So you might want a vision for your temporary orders how do I want this to.
Go How do I want to handle myself and do I want this to get highly litigious OR you know can I put my kids’ best interests ahead of my own interests, because maybe you’re mad at him because he’s had an affair or he left you or whatever happened and you sort of want to get back at him by saying he can’t have time with the kids. But this is that time when you really think about that, because like I mentioned, your children are.
Not divorcing their parents they’re not divorcing their father, you guys are divorcing each other. You have to think about your childrens’ best interests at this time. So you want to talk to your trusted advisers, which we’re calling your divorce team, and talk to them about what would really be best, because sometimes, you have to rise above your personal anger and disappointment about what’s happened and look to your kids’ best interests. And I’m always really impressed when I have client in there who really angry at their ex, but.
They’re able to see through it and they’re able to say, you know what my kids need their dad. And I might not like him and I might be mad at him, but I know that they need him. So, if you’re about to do that, it might be easier to agree on a temporary orders. So, you’re going to have this court hearing and you’re going to go before a judge or a commissioner, usually. And you and your lawyer however it works in your jurisdiction will make.
An argument to the court and often times in these hearings, there’s not much time sometimes it’s five minutes a side or ten minutes a side so there’s a whole bunch of people in the courtroom and everyone takes their turn making an argument. But at the end of the argument, the court is going to rule and when a court rules, they’re going to say, here’s how it’s going to be this is going to happen and that’s going to happen and this is going to happen and here’s where the kids are going to live, and here’s how much maintenance there’s.
Going to be and if that happens it will happen the court will make a ruling, and that ruling will be turned in to a court order. So, if you don’t have a lawyer, or even if you do, you listen very very carefully to what the court is saying, because whatever the court puts in that order, you are responsible to follow. So for example, if you don’t understand what the court is saying let’s say the court says we’re going to have dad’s going to have the kids Thursday through Monday,.
Every other week and then alternating weeks, he’ll have then Thursday overnight. But maybe you don’t know does that start this Thursday Or what time does he pick them up on Thursday and when are they returned do they come back Monday morning or do they come to school Monday morning or do they came back to your house So if there’s any questions, based on what the court rules, you want to ask those questions right on the spot, so that you understand what that order is. Because once that plan.
Is put into terms of an order, including your budget, and child support and your alimony, and your parenting plan. You’re going to be bound by that order, and if you don’t follow that order, you can be found in contempt of court. And that’s serious business. So be very careful to listen to the court’s ruling and to understand that when it becomes a court order, you really don’t have a lot of choices about how you’re going to handle that you just going to have to follow the court’s order.
So, let’s back up for a minute and remember that once you filed for divorce, the court has jurisdiction over your case and the court’s going to help you make decisions about finances and parenting and child support issues like that. So, go back to your vision and take a look at exactly what you want to have happen and try to figure out how you can work towards that result without necessarily. First of all, you can do it by agreement. Second of all, you might be able to go to mediation and settle your temporary orders.
In mediation. And third, if you find yourself in court, be very aware of the requirements of your court page limits, what documents the court wants, how the court wants things organized, how much time you have to speak to the court. And be able to either prepare your lawyer or. for you to make a really cogent, effective presentation to the court on your own behalf. The last thing I want to say is that in most states temporary orders don’t necessarily become the final orders, but once you’ve got these temporary orders in place, you kind.
Of get into a situation where this is what the kids are used to. So, you want to think very carefully about what you ask for in temporary orders and be sure your bring all the evidence you have because they’re very difficult to change between the time you get the order entered and your divorce becomes final. So if you have any questions, you need to be sure you have your questions answered before you go into these hearings, because these hearings can be pretty fast and pretty serious.