Temporary Orders in a Washington State Divorce: The Basics

Usher and his ex-wife Tameka Foster Raymond found themselves back in court on an emergency hearing. They’ve been divorced for a few years. Chances are that even when their case was first filed, they probably couldn’t agree about how to take care of their kids during and after the divorce. It’s a good example of the power of “temporary orders” and why understanding that concept is important for your divorce.

What Are Temporary Orders In A Divorce?

Temporary orders provide you and your spouse with ground rules to follow while you’re sorting out the permanent parts of your divorce. Temporary court orders will tell you who lives in the house, who pays the bills, who gets the car, and when the children are with each of you. Without temporary orders, you won’t get clear guidance on those issues just because you filed for divorce. Life goes on between filing for divorce and final divorce papers, and everyone needs to know the rules.

The good news is that some couples never get temporary orders because they follow their informal agreements. Other couples enter temporary orders by agreement and without a contested court hearing. Usually, the lawyer will simply enter the orders with the court.

The bad news is, some couples just can’t agree. It’s not unusual for parties to a divorce to have strong disagreements, and because divorce is such an emotional experience for certain people, things can heat up in a hurry. If that’s your situation, you’ll want to go to court and present evidence in a temporary hearing.

Motions for Temporary Orders

Your lawyer can file a motion for you, in which you’re going to request the court make a decision on your behalf. Your motion is basically going to say “Here is what I would like to have happen with my house, my money and my kids.” So, a contested court hearing is required to obtain formal, written orders to protect the children’s best interests and your interests in the marital estate. It will depend on the nature of your divorce.

Since the court doesn’t know anything about you, or who’s been taking care of the kids, or who’s been living where, and what’s been going on in your family, you’ll bring evidence before the court that proves your position on the disputed issues. This means you signing an affidavit that states you’re being honest, and then a lot of information: bank statements, employment records, school records, household bills, pay stubs, childcare records-you get the picture–to give the court a good idea of your position. You’ll be very busy obtaining the proper records if you go this route.

At the end of the hearing on your motion, after the arguments are made and the evidence examined, the court is going to rule and when the courts rules, the order is final and each party will have to follow it. Whether your orders are entered amicably as agreed orders, or end up being hard-won formal orders after a lengthy fight, you will at the end of the day have temporary orders in place that will be the rules you live by until your divorce is final.

In any situation, using a good divorce attorney will help you determine whether or not temporary orders are the best way to ensure stability for everyone during your divorce. They may be the critical component for success in your divorce and stability for your family going forward.

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