Temporary divorce order hearings in Austin, work very similarly to other legal proceedings. When the parties go to court, each lawyer makes an opening statement. The lawyers call witnesses and present evidence. If the judge allows it, the lawyers then make a closing argument at the conclusion of the hearing. Then, the judge decides on whatever issues have been submitted to the court.

The judge may decide who is going to be the primary custodial parent while the case is pending, who is going to pay child support, and what spousal support, if any, is going to be paid. The judge may also decide who has access and use of what property and who may be responsible for the marital expenses. These orders are ultimately incorporated into a court order that is prepared by the lawyers and submitted to the judge for signature. Once that agreement is signed, it becomes binding and enforceable on both spouses. If a spouse violates the temporary divorce order, then the other party can take that spouse to court and request enforcement by the court.

Required Documentation at Temporary Order Hearings

Documentation required at temporary orders hearings is similar to the documentation that is required at a final divorce trial in Austin. If child or spousal support are at issue, both spouses will prepare a proposed support decision (the “PSD”, which outlines the parties’ respective income and household expenses. The Court relies on the PSD to determine child and/or spousal support and how household expenses will be allocated between the parties.

Courts also require that each spouse submit proof of income, including W2s and tax returns for the preceding two years and the parties’ pay stubs for the preceding three months. Other evidence the parties may use include text messages, recordings, videos, social media postings, police reports, emails, and witness testimony.

These are also many of the things that we use at a final trial in divorce. Therefore, there is considerable overlap between the types of evidence a lawyer would use at the temporary orders hearing and the kind of evidence they would use at a final hearing. Lastly, there is testimony, which is the statement that each spouse is going to say under oath while testifying at temporary orders hearing. There may be other witnesses that a spouse may want to bring in to support their case. Again, this usually comes into play when there is a dispute over child custody. For example, it is not unusual to bring in a teacher, a neighbor, a family member, or some other character witness to support one spouse’s request for primary custody during the case.

Where are Temporary Divorce Hearings Conducted in Austin?

Prior to the pandemic, temporary order hearings in Austin were held at the courthouse just like a final divorce trial would be. Since the pandemic, temporary order hearings, like all other hearings,  are being conducted remotely via zoom.

How Long Do Temporary Order Hearings Last?

Generally, temporary order hearings are three hours or less. In Travis County, we have a short docket, which is reserved for hearings that are three hours or less. Those dockets occur on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays of each week. Most temporary divorce orders hearings are on the short docket, meaning, they are expected to take three hours or less. If a case has significant issues particularly a child custody dispute, then a temporary divorce order hearing could last a day or more. Hearings over three hours are scheduled on the long docket and begin on Mondays.

Benefits of a Temporary Order

Temporary divorce order hearings are typically requested in Austin because the divorcing parties are unable to agree on what arrangements they want to be in place while their case is pending. Once a divorce is filed, it can last from several months to over a year. During this period, couples should have court orders in place to govern the parties’ behavior, use of community property, and child custody arrangements. For example, a temporary order could ensure that one spouse does not spend money that he or she is not authorized to spend or withhold the child from the other parent.

Generally speaking, the issue that most often triggers a temporary order hearing is a dispute about child custody. Spouses typically live apart during the divorce case. Therefore, parents need a possession schedule that is court-ordered and enforceable to avoid any disputes over who gets time with the children. Either the parents can agree on a schedule and have it authorized by the court, or a judge will decide for them.

Another reason why a spouse in Austin may request a temporary order hearing is that they do not have access to sufficient funds to pay their lawyer. A judge can order that the “monied” spouse make funds available to the nonmonied spouse to pay his/her lawyer. This is not unusual in cases, for example, where there is a stay-at-home mom who does not have access to community funds.

Temporary order hearings also may be beneficial in situations where there is a dispute about who is going to have exclusive use of the marital residence while the case is pending. Many spouses when they divorce separate and live apart. It is not unusual for there to be an argument about who is going to be able to live in the house while the case is pending. If there are children involved, the person who is the children’s primary caregiver is generally going to be allowed to reside in the residence with the children until the divorce is finalized.

Contact an Austin Attorney for Help with a Temporary Divorce Hearing

While it is possible for someone to represent themselves in a divorce case, we would strongly discourage it. Anyone who has a contested divorce case should retain an attorney. Your attorney can help negotiate a favorable order or advocate for you and your family’s interest in court if negotiation fails. To get help with your temporary divorce order hearing in Austin, call today.