Temporary Orders Are Effective Tools in Divorce Cases

The early stages of a divorce are especially difficult for clients because of all the uncertainty caused by separation and divorce – where will the parties and children live; how will family expenses be paid; and, more importantly, when will each parent have time with their children?

All of these crucial issues need to be decided quickly and on a temporary basis so that clients can continue living day-to-day while all the facts of the divorce are assembled, presented and possibly reviewed by a judge for a final decision. Where minor children are involved, a divorce cannot be finalized for six months from the time the complaint is filed. Divorces that go to trial generally take more than six months.

To help a spouse that has immediate needs, attorneys have at their disposal a very versatile and effective tool: file a motion and request a temporary order from the judge.

As the name suggests, the judge can issue court orders that remain in effect until the divorce is finalized and that can address just about any situation, such as:

• The amount of child support that one spouse will pay to the other to ensure that the kids are provided for;
• Prevent a party from selling substantial assets that will become part of the divorce settlement;
• Determine who has “use and possession” of the marital home or vehicle; and,
• Determine parenting time for the non-custodial parent.

To reduce costs and the stress of confrontation, I counsel my clients to attempt to settle these issues without the necessity of a motion and a hearing. If an agreement can be reached outside the courtroom, an order can be entered – even without a hearing. In cases where the parties can’t find common ground, it’s necessary to file a motion, hold a hearing, and let the judge decide these issues.

In a divorce with minor children, my immediate priority is custody, parenting time, and child support, which initially is accomplished through a temporary order.

A hearing on a motion for temporary order is generally brief and usually involves oral argument from the attorneys as opposed to sworn testimony from the parties. The judge will review evidence presented by either party, will consider the arguments made by both parties, and then will issue a ruling. Temporary orders remain in effect until the divorce is final or another hearing is held to alter the order, and they are binding and enforceable.

It’s been my experience that a temporary order is often necessary to help my clients enforce their rights and to find some semblance of normalcy and order for themselves and their children during a very difficult time.

Have Michigan Declared as Your Home State if You Have Custody

Frank and Sarah wed when they were in their early 20s, and the newly minted couple moved to Florida from the Midwest in search of warmer weather and adventures.

But after several years of frequent moves throughout Florida and now with two children, Sarah found that her marriage to Frank was headed for divorce as she yearned for stability and closer ties to her extended family in her native Michigan. With the divorce finalized in Florida, Sarah moved back to Michigan with the children so they could establish a good relationship with her family, while Frank settled in Colorado to a carefree and aimless lifestyle.

Frank began to regret how little time he had spent with his children after a few years, even though he was granted significant child visitation rights under the Florida judgment. Resolved to do better, he contacted Sarah with a half-baked plan to take the children for an extended period of time – with a veiled threat to fight her for custody if she refused. Shocked by that revelation because Frank had no experience at providing a stable home environment, Sarah worried about the legal costs of handling the matter in a Florida court.

After consultation with Toburen Law, Sarah learned that she had a practical alternative to filing motions in Florida to contest Frank’s plans: ask to have jurisdiction of the divorce and child custody case transferred to Michigan.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) allows one of the divorced couple to request that jurisdiction over child custody be moved to a different state if certain standards are met, such as if the new state is the child’s home state and if there needs to be emergency jurisdiction when the child is present and the child’s welfare is threatened.

Sarah had a strong hand legally since she was awarded primary custody of the children, they had been with her in Michigan for a number of years, and she had no plans to move. But Frank could make life difficult for her by filing motions in Florida or even Colorado, forcing Sarah to travel to those states. While it was unlikely that Colorado would take jurisdiction in their case given the facts, there weren’t any guarantees that Colorado wouldn’t.

After considering her situation, Sarah decided to request transfer of jurisdiction of her divorce and child custody case to Michigan, which was granted – before Frank filed competing motions. With Michigan as the home state, all court filings would have to be made in Michigan where she lived – which allowed Sarah to hire a local attorney and to save considerable time and money by not having to go out of state.

Things to Consider Before the Divorce Goes to Court: Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog series, I discussed the basic issues my clients need to consider before a divorce goes to court, such as living arrangements and monthly expenses. For Part 2 of the series, I will discuss some equally important issues related to the emotional side of divorce – issues that can be just as challenging as the financial aspects.

Read more: Things to Consider Before the Divorce Goes to Court: Part 2

Things to Consider Before the Divorce Goes to Court: Part 1

In my experience as a family law attorney, I’ve learned that a client facing an imminent divorce – whether my client plans to file for divorce or whether my client has been served with divorce papers – feels less stress and anxiety if I explain the divorce process and what to expect, even before the matter gets to court.

Read more: Things to Consider Before the Divorce Goes to Court: Part 1

Mike Toburen - Attorney at Law   

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Attorney Mike Toburen

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