What Can be Requested
Family courts can enter temporary orders for nearly every family law issue. Most commonly, temporary orders are entered to establish temporary parenting time (child custody) or financial support like spousal maintenance and child support. Other common issues include exclusive use of a marital residence, division of liquid financial accounts, and temporary or interim attorney’s fees.
Filing a Motion for Temporary Orders
Litigants should carefully review Rule 47 and its subparts to ensure compliance and avoid procedural denial. Basically, the rule requires the party seeking temporary orders to file a verified motion at the same time or after an underlying petition is filed. 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.
The rule enumerates additional requirements for specific types of orders, including legal decision-making and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property and debt, and attorney’s fees. Sometimes both parties seek temporary orders. Our fictional divorce series provides an example of competing motions.
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, 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 without notice only when the sworn statement of facts show that irreparable harm will occur if the motion is denied. This is an extremely high 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 Hearings
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 as little as 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 the most 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.
Sample Motion for Temporary Orders