The Texas divorce process can take quite some time from the date of filing your petition to the final decree. At a minimum, your case could be pending in court for a few weeks; in hotly contested matters, completing the entire divorce process could even take years.
During this time, parties, their assets, and minor children in a state of limbo. To address the rights and responsibilities while the case proceeds, divorce statutes allow for temporary orders in Texas divorce.
The subject matter and obligations of the parties can be quite complicated, so it’s wise to entrust your case to an experienced Austin divorce lawyer. However, an overview may help you understand the basics.
The Purpose of Temporary Orders in Texas Divorce Proceedings
Parties to divorce must have some structure regarding the finances, assets, and minor children while the case is pending. The Texas Family Code section on temporary orders addresses this issue by allowing either party to file a motion requesting the judge to issue a ruling regarding these matters.
A court may also take such action through its own motion. The order may be via an injunction, in which the parties must preserve and protect property to maintain its value.
In addition, a temporary order may require one or both of the parties to:
- Prepare an inventory of all real estate and personal property, along with descriptions;
- Pay spousal support, i.e., alimony;
- Allow one spouse to remain in the primary residence;
- Avoid spending funds in excess of an amount designated by the judge;
- Pay attorneys’ fees for a party;
- Turn over books, paperwork, documents, and other tangible things; and,
- Take any other action that’s deemed fair and reasonable.
Another important aspect of a temporary order relates to minor children born to the divorcing spouses. A judge will decide what arrangement is in the child’s best interests, enter an order regarding custody, visitation, and support. It remains in effect until the case concludes.
Temporary Orders by Agreement
In cases where the parties can reach an accord on some of the topics mentioned above, it’s possible to file a motion to enter a temporary order by agreement. The judge is unlikely to disturb the agreement unless it’s extremely unfair or doesn’t properly account for the child’s best interests.
Note that you don’t have to compromise on every single aspect of divorce to be able to work out an agreed order. You can resolve certain issues through Texas divorce temporary orders, and leave others for the court to decide.
The advantage of agreeing on a temporary order is that compromise can set a positive, productive stage for a smoother divorce process. Going to court on contested issues can be a hassle, as you’ll see in more detail below. When you implement an agreed order, you’ll save time, money, and likely a considerable amount of stress.
Contested Issues Require a Temporary Order Hearing
When you can’t come to an agreement – or you haven’t reached an accord on some issues – it’s necessary for the court to make a determination through a temporary orders hearing in Texas. The hearing is called “evidentiary” because both parties will have an opportunity to present their position on disputed issues. The proceedings are similar to a trial, so:
- Each side will have a chance to make an opening statement, with the party who filed the motion going first;
- Each spouse will have a chance to testify and be cross-examined;
- You can introduce such evidence as pictures, video, documents, and other information;
- The parties can have witnesses testify;
- The court may want to hear from children; and,
- The parties can present closing arguments.
Generally, the focus of the court is to determine the status quo and decide the best strategies for maintaining it. In other words, the judge will listen to each side to assess the current arrangement, for purposes of finances, assets, and children.
Based on this analysis, the court will then decide how to construct the temporary order. Judges have considerable discretion throughout the proceeding, meaning they can draw from their own opinions and viewpoints on such issues as:
- How the temporary order hearing is conducted, such as limiting it in terms of time;
- Granting the requests of each party with respect to assets, support, and issues regarding minor children; and,
- Requiring the parties to go through mediation in advance of the hearing, to see if a trained mediation professional can help them reach an agreement.
Contact an Austin Divorce Attorney About Temporary Orders in Texas
If you have questions about Texas temporary orders or want to know how they affect your divorce case, please contact the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC. You can set up a consultation at our Austin office by calling (512) 489-9820 or visit us online. We can explain your rights and responsibilities, and advise you throughout the proceedings.