My Spouse Tells Me She Is Going to File a Motion for Temporary Orders. What Does That Mean?

I’m just at the beginning stages of a divorce case, but already in the thick of it. My spouse tells me she is going to have her lawyer file a motion for temporary orders. What does that mean?

Good question. Concisely stated, your spouse will, through her motion for temporary orders, request orders that will govern the parties on a temporary basis during the pendency of the case until final orders are made. These orders being temporary orders are not permanent orders–meaning that the court can modify those orders or completely rescind those orders before the final Decree of Divorce is entered.

Your spouse will put her requests in a document she files with the court (this is her motion). In her motion she articulates arguments as to why she should get what she is asking for.

Temporary orders typically address matters of who will pay which marital debts and obligations during the pendency of the case, so that the house doesn’t go into foreclosure, or the landlord doesn’t evict anyone, to ensure the car isn’t repossessed and so that your credit ratings aren’t hurt. Temporary orders also address issues of which of you gets to stay in the marital residence  and who has to go, issues of child custody and support, and temporary alimony.

In response to your spouse’s motion, you will almost certainly file both 1) a memorandum in opposition to her motion, arguing why her motion should not be granted or not granted precisely as she wants, and a 2) counter motion of your own requesting the relief you want. Your spouse may then file a memorandum in opposition to your counter motion and a memorandum in reply to your memorandum in opposition to her motion. You can then file a memorandum in reply to her opposition to your counter motion.

Both of you will then go before either a judge or a domestic relations commissioner for a hearing. Note: a domestic relations commissioner is like a judge, but not a judge, and whether you appear before a commissioner or a judge depends upon whether you live in a populous part of the state or in a rural or sparsely populated part of the state. High population districts have commissioners. Low population districts do not.

The hearing will likely be held remotely over Webex (which is like Zoom or Skype or Google Meet), but it is possible you may be required to go to the courthouse for the hearing.

If you and your spouse both have lawyers, then they will argue the motions before the court. If you ever saw a high school or college debate, the argument in court is a lot like that. Usually, neither you nor your spouse will testify or be asked any questions by the lawyers. This is known as proceeding by proffer. The commissioner or judge may ask a question or two, but don’t be surprised if the commissioner or judge does not.

The commissioner or judge will, at the end of the hearing either decide the matter right there from the bench or “take the matter under advisement” and issue a written or oral decision several weeks later.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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