Over my career at the Schneider Law Firm I’ve met with hundreds of individuals contemplating a Texas Divorce or Custody suit. One of the most common questions that comes up in a Divorce or Custody consult is what can we do now to protect their children and assets. The answer in Texas is a Temporary Orders Hearing. Here are 10 frequently asked questions to help you understand the process.
1. What is a Temporary Orders Hearing?
A Temporary Orders hearing is a hearing that is held after a petition for Texas divorce or custody is filed with the court that puts orders in place until you can have a final trial or otherwise settle your case. Not all matters are entitled to a Temporary Orders hearing.
2. How soon does a Temporary Orders hearing occur in a case?
Typically, Temporary Orders hearings are held within two weeks of filing your suit if a Temporary Restraining Order has been requested by a party. If no TRO is requested the timing of the Temporary Orders hearing can vary depending on the urgency of the relief requested and procedural considerations.
3. What is the difference between a Temporary Restraining Order and a Temporary Order?
A Temporary Restraining Order is a short term restriction on a person wherein, once served, that person cannot do certain actions such as sell or destroy property, cancel utilities, or disturb the children’s routine. Unlike a Temporary Order, a Temporary Restraining Order does not require a hearing, but is only good for 14 days. A Temporary Restraining Order allows the court to keep the parties’ status quo between the time of filing a suit and the actual Temporary Orders hearing.
4. What is the difference between a Temporary Order and a Protective Order?
A Protective Order is an order that provides protection for a person after the court determines family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again in the future, wherein the Defendant is ordered to stay a certain distance from the Applicant and the Applicant’s home, employer, school, etc. along with other restrictions as determined by the Court. A Protective Order is different from a Temporary Order in that if a person violates a Protective Order, law enforcement may immediately take that person into custody, wherein violation of a Temporary Order leads to a possible contempt action which requires a hearing and proper notice to the person.
5. What is decided at a Temporary Orders Hearing?
At a Temporary Orders hearing, the Court may decide issues that need immediate attention during the pendency of a case. For example, in a Fort Worth, TX divorce matter the Court may decide who remains in the marital home and who must vacate, temporary spousal support, payment of monthly expenses, and if there are children, who has primary possession of the children and who pays child support. When children are involved, the best interest of the children is always the court’s utmost concern in establishing Temporary Orders.
6. How should I dress for a Temporary Orders hearing?
You should dress conservatively as if you were going to church or an important job interview. Generally, dark colors are preferred and all clothing should be properly fitted and hemmed. Your hair should be washed and combed and any makeup should be of a neutral color.
7. What should I bring to a Temporary Orders hearing?
Typically, the local rules of your county will require each party to bring proof of his or her income as well as a detailed summary of the monthly expenses. Additionally a litigant should be prepared to provide documentation or evidence for any issues they would like to address with the court for the purposes of establishing Temporary Orders. Examples of this are business records from Child Protective Services or the child’s school, police reports, bank statements, emails/texts or photographs.
8. How formal are Temporary Orders hearings?
A litigant should be prepared for a formal hearing and prepare and dress for such. However, unlike a final trial, many times a Temporary Orders hearing is less formal in that a court reporter is not always available to take a record and many issues may be resolved by simply approaching the bench and discussing the matter with the presiding judge. In this regard, local custom varies and an experienced lawyer will know the particular court’s preference.
9. Can I appeal a decision of the judge regarding Temporary Orders?
Yes, if Temporary Orders are decided by an associate judge, a litigant may appeal that decision to the district judge of that court. This is called a de novo appeal. However, the litigant should be aware that there is a very short deadline to file such an appeal and should act promptly.
10. What happens if someone violates a Temporary Order?
If a party violates the Temporary Order, the other party may file for an enforcement of those orders and ask that the violating party be held in contempt of court. If the Court finds that a party is in violation of the Temporary Orders, it may hold that person in contempt and punish him or her with fines and/or jail time and is likely to order the violating party to reimburse reasonable attorney fees to the moving party for having to bring such an action.
This is a very simple overview of the Temporary Order Process in a Texas Divorce or Custody Case. This is not meant to serve as specific legal advice. Each case is different. Hire a good lawyer!
Alison Porterfield, Attorney