A verified motion for temporary orders can be used in Arizona family court to obtain temporary orders to resolve issues while the litigation is pending. Most commonly, temporary orders are entered to establish temporary parenting time or temporary financial support, like spousal maintenance or child support. This is because family court cases can take months or even years to resolve, so it is often necessary for the court to enter temporary orders enforceable until final resolution is reached.
Filing a Motion for Temporary Orders
Pursuant to Rule 47, a party can request temporary orders by filing a verified motion contemporaneously with or subsequent to an underlying petition. The rule goes on to enumerate additional requirements for specific types of temporary orders, including legal decision-making and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property and debt, and attorney’s fees. Our fictional divorce series provides an example of competing motions.
The underlying petition is critical to the motion for temporary orders. Without an underlying petition, the family court cannot enter temporary orders. It can be any type of petition, i.e. a petition for dissolution or legal separation, a petition to establish, or a petition to modify, but there must be a pending petition. No additional filing fee is required to file a motion for temporary orders and unrepresented litigants can use a form available at the local courthouse.
Once filed, the court will schedule a hearing and issue an order to appear. The order to appear must be served upon the other party or the other party’s attorney, if represented, at least ten (10) days before the hearing. Usually the hearing will be a resolution management conference or a return hearing where the court will determine if sufficient grounds exist to set an evidentiary hearing (trial) on the motion.
Emergency Temporary Orders
Although more immediate than waiting for final orders from the court, obtaining temporary orders still takes time. When more emergent circumstances exist, litigants may be able to request temporary orders without notice to the opposing party under Rule 48. The family court can grant an emergency temporary order only when the sworn statement of facts show that irreparable harm will occur if the motion is denied. This is an extremely specific burden of proof. When an emergency order is granted, a hearing must be set within ten (10) days and the order to appear must be served upon the opposing party as soon as possible. Improperly filing for emergency orders can prejudice the underlying case. It is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney prior to filing, if possible. If not, there is a form available to request temporary orders without notice.
Temporary Orders Evidentiary Hearing
Before entering temporary orders or upholding emergency temporary orders, the family court will set an evidentiary hearing. The length of the hearing depends on the number of issues, their time-sensitivity, and the family court’s calendar, which varies by county. Maricopa County family judges commonly set evidentiary hearings on motions for temporary orders for only thirty minutes to an hour because their calendars are extremely busy. Obviously this can make it challenging to present necessary evidence and testimony in such a brief amount of time. This is where skilled family law attorneys really separate themselves from their peers. Even experienced attorneys frequently misuse their allotted time and fail to admit critical evidence or elicit important testimony. Another advantage of hiring an attorney might be a higher quality pretrial statement. The pretrial statement is a document typically required to be filed by each party a week before any evidentiary hearing. It contains a summary of material facts and the legal authority to support your position on each contested issue. Judges may depend more on the pretrial statement when there is limited time to fully present your argument at a brief temporary orders hearing. If hiring an attorney simply is not an option, there are unbundled legal services, like legal document preparation, that offer comparatively inexpensive ways to be sure documents like the pretrial statement are prepared correctly and persuasively.