In a Texas divorce or family law case involving children and custody, the court makes initial determinations at a temporary orders hearing. The terms of temporary orders can be reached by agreement by the parties and by the decision of the judge. Time is limited at a temporary orders hearing and it is important to focus on the important issues. The temporary orders, in whole or in part, may carry over into the final order of the court unless otherwise agreed or decided by the court. In a divorce case, the temporary orders list the initial distribution and rights to money, property and payments supporting the other spouse or attorneys fees. Temporary orders in cases affecting parent-child relationships determine where children will reside during the divorce, which parent will pay child support and any conditions of parent-child relationships. Being well prepared and poised for a temporary orders hearing is important, making a good impression is imperative.
Temporary Orders Hearing in Divorce Cases
Texas divorces require the identification of all property and money owned and owed by the parties and the temporary orders state the rights and obligations of each spouse as the divorce proceeds. The Texas Family Code lists the elements of temporary orders as they may be directed to one or both parties as follows:
- “requiring a sworn inventory and appraisement of the real and personal property owned or claimed by the parties and specifying the form, manner, and substance of the inventory and appraisal and list of debts and liabilities;
- requiring payments to be made for the support of either spouse;
- requiring the production of books, papers, documents, and tangible things by a party;
- ordering payment of reasonable attorney ‘s fees and expenses;
- appointing a receiver for the preservation and protection of the property of the parties;
- awarding one spouse exclusive occupancy of the residence during the pendency of the case;
- prohibiting the parties, or either party, from spending funds beyond an amount the court determines to be for reasonable and necessary living expenses;
- awarding one spouse exclusive control of a party ‘s usual business or occupation; or
- prohibiting an act described by Section 6.501(a)[i]” (regarding temporary restraining orders[ii]).
Temporary Orders Hearing in Child Custody Cases
At a temporary orders hearing involving children, the judge determines, by approval of agreement by the parties or on the judge’s direction, which parent will have temporary conservatorship and possession and access to the child and the right to determine how and where the child will live during the divorce process. The temporary orders also order child support and attorneys fees as necessary. The Texas Family code specifies the provisions for the safety and welfare of a child in an order as follows:
- “for the temporary conservatorship of the child;
- for the temporary support of the child;
- restraining a party from disturbing the peace of the child or another party;
- prohibiting a person from removing the child beyond a geographical area identified by the court; or
- for payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses.[iii]”
Focusing on Priorities in a Temporary Orders Hearing
Judges hearing contested divorce and family law cases have limited time to review your requests, supporting documents and financial statements. The judge also asks questions and listens to both spouses as they state and support their positions. Experienced divorce and family law attorneys can reasonably anticipate how judges will rule if they are required to make decisions about the temporary orders. When the majority of issues are agreed by the parties on a temporary basis, the judge can focus on the most important matters. Temporary orders hearings are generally limited to 20 minutes so it is important to be concise. Because the judge has limited time to make a first impression of the case, the issues and the parties, being presentable, professional and polite can help the judge determine credibility and character.
Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing
Judges see good people going through challenging times. While they may be sympathetic, they also have a job to do, with limited time and resources. Judges appreciate spouses and parents who conduct themselves professionally and are well prepared with answers to questions and plans to cooperate in the temporary orders hearing process. Attorneys provide their clients with a list of documents necessary to prepare for a temporary orders hearing. A well-prepared client with complete document responses may receive a better outcome at the temporary orders hearing.
Dallas and Collin County Board Certified?divorce and family law attorney,?Mark Scroggins, along with their team at Scroggins Law Group?advises and represents spouses and parents at temporary orders hearings.
At Scroggins Law Group, our Dallas and Collin County divorce attorneys have more than over 24 years of collective experience with family law cases. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today to learn more about Texas divorce and family law: (214) 469-3100.