When the time has come for you and your spouse to get divorced, your mind is likely to be full of questions about how to navigate the divorce process, how to begin dividing property between you and your spouse, and how to set a schedule so both parents receive time with the children. Divorce takes some time; a minimum of 120 days after the papers are served or the joint petition is filed. If you do not think you and your spouse can be agreeable on important decisions while your divorce is pending then you may want to consider obtaining a Temporary Order. Other reasons for obtaining Temporary Orders in divorce include if there are minor children in the family or if there has been domestic violence between the spouses.
A Temporary Order is exactly what it sounds like: a court order that temporarily directs the parties in a divorce action to do things. The Court will consider the same factors at the Temporary Order stage that it will consider at the final divorce hearing. Temporary Orders can cover all sorts of key issues for divorcing spouses. These issues include:
- Custody and physical placement of minor children
- Allowing or prohibiting the removal of the children from the court’s jurisdiction
- Allowing or prohibiting the disposal of assets within the court’s jurisdiction
- Child support
- Maintenance (alimony)
- Execution of an assignment of income for family support purposes
- Use of property between the parties
- Payment of debts or restricting parties from incurring further debt
- Counseling for the parties and/or minor children
- Requiring health insurance coverage for the minor children
- Attorney’s fees
You can obtain a Temporary Order at any time before the divorce trial. If you have a feeling from the start that you and your spouse will disagree, you have the option of requesting a Temporary Order at the same time you file your divorce petition. After filing for a Temporary Order, both parties should be prepared to present certain factual information at a hearing before the Court. Parties (and their attorneys, if that is the case) should consider the importance of the Temporary Order stage when children are involved. If the arrangements that are made under the Order show little disruption to the minor children involved, this may persuade the Court to keep the terms of the Temporary Order and place them into a final order.
Parties to a divorce proceeding should also be aware that before a determination is made on custody or placement in a Temporary Order, the Court may allow for mediation or appointment of a third party called a Guardian Ad Litem. Guardian Ad Litems will make recommendations to the Court regarding what is in the best interests of the children.
After the hearing, the Court will issue an Order. Once a Temporary Order is in place, it will usually govern until a final order is made. If either party disagrees with the terms of the Temporary Order and the hearing was presided over by a Family Court Commissioner, then the party in disagreement may file for a new hearing before a circuit court judge. This review of the Family Court Commissioner’s decision is called a de novo hearing.
Once the Temporary Order is in place, with or without a de novo hearing, the parties must abide by the terms of the Temporary Order. It has the force of a court order, even though it is only temporary. Parties must be aware that failure to comply with the Temporary Order will allow the aggrieved party to file a motion for contempt.
If you have questions regarding divorce or obtaining a Temporary Order, or any other family law matter, contact one of the experienced family law attorneys at Lawton & Cates, S.C.
Sources: Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 767.225, Wisconsin Legislative Council Abstract – Child Custody and Physical Placement in Wisconsin (June 21, 2002)