In short, the answer is a resounding YES. Temporary orders are important.
What are temporary orders?
When does a person get temporary orders? A person can get them at almost any time during a case. Most commonly, they are done at the beginning of a case, especially if there are immediate contested issues.
What do temporary orders do?
Temporary orders exist to decide contested issues during the period of time the case is pending in court. Examples include the following:
- Who should live in the house during the case?
- Who should pay which bills/debts during the case?
- Who has custody of children while the case is pending?
- How much child support will a parent pay while the case is pending?
- What type of visitation will a person get during the case?
- How will children obtain health insurance during the case?
There are many other purposes for temp orders, but these are the most common.
How long do they last?
Temporary orders typically last during the pendency of the case. In a short case, they might be in effect for three to nine months. In a longer case, they might be in place for a year or more.
Can they be changed?
Yes, they can be changed, but it can be difficult to modify them unless something is going wrong or the order itself contemplates a future hearing to modify (this is not very common, though). Temporary orders thus are often put into place early in a case and remain in place until the case is finalized.
So, are temporary orders really important if they are “only temporary” and can be changed? Yes, they are definitely important. Simply put, the orders create a status quo in the case that can be hard to overcome later. All too often, clients come to us after having already appeared in court for a hearing on temporary orders without an attorney. At that hearing, the other side’s attorney explained the wishes of his or her client and asked for an agreement on a temporary order. The client, not really understanding, signed the agreement. Only later, when that client comes to us seeking a change to the order, does he or she realize it might be very difficult, if not impossible, to modify. The question these clients must answer for the court is this: If you did not like the terms of the order, or did not think they were the best option, then why did you agree to it? Courts very often hold people to their agreements.
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So, what does all this mean to you? If you are ever served with court documents that include a court date, do not take it lightly! The worst thing you can do is ignore it and not attend the hearing. Not being present is likely to result in a default judgment against you, meaning the other side will easily get what they want. Come see us to better understand what is happening and let us help you through the process and make sure you get the best result possible.