SEPARATION AND TEMPORARY ORDERS
In Texas, most people are aware that there is no legal separation that parties can enter into prior to the divorce proceeding. However, a court can issue temporary orders that address interim issues and put into place enforceable and legally binding rules of play between the parties during the divorce proceeding. There is a requirement that the divorce action needs to be filed and pending in order for the Court to enter any form of temporary orders.
Temporary Orders can be entered by the Court after a hearing in front of the Judge or by agreement of the parties. If a hearing is held on temporary orders, the hearing is generally very short in nature and only addresses issues of immediate concern. You will need to work with your local, experienced family law attorney to determine the best course of action in proceeding with temporary orders in your county. The family law attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP are familiar with the rules of practice and the time limitations imposed by Collin County, Denton County, and Dallas County courts for temporary orders hearings.
At a temporary orders hearing, a Judge can issue rulings regarding the use and possession of all items of property owned by the parties. This means that the Judge can allow one party to remain in the residence and require another party to leave the residence, or even the sale of the residence. The Judge will generally order that each party will have the exclusive use and possession of his or her own motor vehicle. Judges can also enter orders that a party pay temporary support to another party to a case. While there are strict regulations on spousal maintenance in Texas, it is much more common to have temporary support ordered between the parties during the pendency of a case.
The Judge can also issue restraining orders during this hearing, restraining either party or both parties from any number of actions (i.e. contacting the other party, entering the other party’s motor vehicle, etc.). Collin County,Dallas County, and Denton County courts also all have standing orders in place. These are restraining orders that apply to both parties from the time the lawsuit is filed until further order of the Court or entry of the Final Decree of Divorce. Most items in the restraining orders are to maintain the status quo and protect both parties’ rights and property. All of these courts include orders that neither party can destroy, transfer, or otherwise harm the property in the estate. This protects the property until there is a final determination on the property division at the conclusion of the divorce proceeding.
Judges may also issue temporary orders regarding any minor child or children involved in the case. Child support, visitation issues, and other issues regarding custody and decision-making for the children can be addressed at the temporary orders hearing. Judges may also order a social study looking into the homes and circumstances of the parties and the children to determine primary custody and/or visitation (to be addressed in a later blog), mediation, counseling and/or psychological evaluations for the parties, and drug testing, among other things.
If, at any time during the pendency of the temporary orders, the parties decide to reconcile, they are encouraged to do so. They can dismiss or nonsuit the divorce proceeding as if it were never filed. If the case continues until a divorce is final, the temporary orders will generally terminate at the time of the Final Decree of Divorce, and the new rules will begin with that Decree.
If you have any questions regarding temporary orders or standing orders in your county or in your case, please contact your local, experienced family law attorney.