Q: My lawyer keeps talking to me about “temporary orders.” I have no idea what she is talking about, and her explanation makes less sense each time we talk. Can you tell me what these are?
A: If she cannot explain “temporary orders,” you have a serious communication issue. Unfortunately, many lawyers forget that “lawyerspeak” is foreign to individuals dealing with the Domestic Relations Court for the first time.
The easiest way to understand temporary orders is to recognize that many months might go by after a divorce complaint is filed and before a final decision is required to be made by a judge. Cases are often delayed for 12 to 18 months, depending on the complexity and circumstances.
Typically, financial and custodial arrangements must be made so that husband and wife will know how they are to live during the delay. In many cases, the parties can reach their own agreement, often with the assistance of counsel, which will cover parenting issues, child support and payment of rent or mortgage — as well as deciding which of the parties will pay other debts and obligations.
When the parties can’t agree, a magistrate will review financial and personal affidavits and issue an order that must be followed while the case is pending.
Most hearing officers tell litigants that the purpose of a temporary order is to maintain the status quo and that the interim arrangement should have little to do with the final decisions when the divorce is actually granted.
Unfortunately, however, there are times when the fight over the temporary order becomes as significant as the divorce itself. One never knows the weight given to the temporary order by the judge who ultimately decides the case.
In ideal circumstances, attorneys will work with their clients to establish a method of payments that will permit both parties to move forward without feeling a significant difference in lifestyle.
If money is tight, however, both must realize that available dollars seem to shrink when expenses increase as a result of establishing two households.
Central Ohio lawyers Jeffrey A. and Andrew Grossman specialize in family-relations law. Send questions for consideration in care of The Dispatch, Life, 34 S. 3rd St., Columbus, OH 43215; or by email.