Brian K. Tackett

By Brian Tackett – Attorney at Law

Temporary Orders are a concept unique to family law. A Temporary Order is an order of the Court declaring certain things a party or parties must do or not do while a divorce is pending. Since family law cases can go on for months and sometimes even years, temporary orders establish the rights and duties of spouses, parents, and children during the time period that the case may be pending.

Temporary Orders

Divorcing spouses request temporary orders for many reasons. During a divorce proceeding, tempers flare, emotions come to the surface, and often times the worst is brought out in people. The temporary orders allow for time to pass and parties to cool so that decisions are made while thinking clearly and rationally. Hasty decisions regarding such important things as finances, taxes, and the well-being of a child can be detrimental if spouses are left to their own devices.

Reasons for temporary orders in a divorce proceeding may be:

  • To give one spouse the right to occupy the residence

  • To ensure bills, including the mortgage, are paid

  • To ensure debts owed by the parties are paid

  • To ensure that marital property is preserved and not wasted during the divorce

  • Temporary spousal maintenance

  • Child possession schedules

  • Child support

Keep in mind these are just a few, there are many other reasons to implement temporary orders.

Standing Orders

In many larger counties in the State of Texas including Denton County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, and Collin County, family courts have a Standing Order that sets the ground rules for how all parties conduct themselves while the divorce is pending. The standing order is binding on the parties, effective immediately, and will continue for the life of the case without a hearing unless it is modified by the court.

The standing order is useful because the parties do not need to have a hearing before the standing order becomes effective. The one drawback to standing orders is that it is a generic order intended to apply to all divorce cases. It does not address many of the specific needs of divorcing couples, such as which spouse will live in the house while the case is pending, or with whom the children will primarily live. (At the end of this article is a list of standing orders in Denton County.)

Unlike standing orders, temporary orders are not effective immediately. A spouse must file a motion for temporary orders which the court will set for a hearing at some point in the future. How soon the hearing takes place is entirely up to the court, and may be affected by how backed up the court’s docket is. In that case, the parties are left in limbo and various important issues are left unresolved until the hearing.

Temporary Restraining Order

In order to lessen the delay in having a hearing, divorce lawyers will often request a Temporary Restraining Order, or a TRO. To obtain a TRO, a spouse files an application for the TRO with the Court, a TRO is then signed by the judge. This may be done without notice to the other party, the first notice of the TRO may be when it is served to the other spouse. It is effective from the moment it is served. But a hearing on the TRO must be held within 14 days from the time the Court signed the TRO. This greatly speeds up the process for getting a TRO and, consequently, temporary orders.

The restrictions contained in a TRO are usually limited to the same provisions contained in the standing order. However, a party may request other “extraordinary” relief if that party includes an affidavit showing that immediate, irreparable harm will occur if the extraordinary relief is not granted. Here are some examples of requests for extraordinary relief:

  1. A court may order an abusive spouse to vacate the residence if it is shown that he or she poses a threat to the physical safety of the spouse or children;

  2. Similarly, a court may prohibit the same abusive spouse from having unsupervised contact with the children;

  3. A court may halt the sale of a community property business if that sale is taking place without the consent of the other spouse; or

  4. If a spouse is threatening to contact the other spouse’s employer in an attempt to get him or her fired, a court may prohibit any contact with the employer.

Violation of Temporary Orders

If a party violates the temporary orders, he or she may be held in contempt of court and subject to fines and/or jail time. To pursue contempt charges, the non-offending spouse files a motion for enforcement of the temporary orders. The motion for enforcement states with great specificity which provisions were violated, when, and how they were violated, and a copy of the motion is served on the offending spouse and a hearing on the motion will be held. The hearing will determine: 1) whether the violation occurred, and 2) if so, what the punishment will be. It is the court’s discretion as to whether the offending spouse will be fined, sentenced to jail, or put on probation

Are You in Need of an Experienced Attorney?

If you are facing a divorce, make sure you hire an attorney you trust to handle the case efficiently and with care. Contact our experienced family lawyers at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant for counsel or representation. Call us at (940) 387-3518, or contact us here to set up a consultation.

APPENDIX A – Denton County’s Standing Order of the Court

DENTON COUNTY STANDING ORDER REGARDING CHILDREN,

PROPERTY AND CONDUCT OF THE PARTIES

THIS DENTON COUNTY STANDING ORDER REGARDING CHILDREN, PROPERTY AND CONDUCT OF THE PARTIES IS BINDING ON (1) THE PARTIES, (2) THE PARTIES’ OFFICERS, AGENTS, SERVANTS, EMPLOYEES, AND ATTORNEYS, AND (3) ANY OTHER PERSON WHO ACTS IN CONCERT WITH THE PARTIES OR THEIR AGENTS AND WHO RECEIVES ACTUAL NOTICE OF THESE ORDERS, AND IS ENFORCEABLE BY CONTEMPT, INCLUDING A FINE OF UP TO $500, CONFINEMENT IN THE COUNTY JAIL FOR SIX MONTHS, OR BOTH SUCH A FINE AND CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR EACH VIOLATION, AND A MONEY JUDGMENT FOR PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COURT COSTS.

No party to this lawsuit has requested this order. Rather, this order is a standing order of the Denton County District Courts that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent-child relationship, including a suit for modification or enforcement of a prior order, filed in Denton County, Texas. The Denton County District Courts have adopted this order pursuant to Texas Family Code §§6.501-6.503, 105.001, and 105.009 because the parties and their children should be protected and their property preserved while the lawsuit is pending before the court. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

  1. NO DISRUPTION OF CHILDREN. All parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts concerning any children who are subjects of this cause:

    1. Removing the children from the State of Texas for the purpose of changing the children’s domicile or residence, acting directly or in concert with others, without the written agreement of all parties or an order of this Court; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from so removing the children if an active prior court order gives that party the right to designate the children’s primary residence outside the State of Texas or without regard to geographic location.

    2. Disrupting or withdrawing the children from the school or day-care facility where the children are presently enrolled without the written agreement of all parties or an order of this Court; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from so withdrawing the children from a school or day-care facility if that party is changing the children’s domicile or residence within that party’s rights pursuant to an active prior court order as described in §1.1 above.

    3. Hiding or secreting the children from any other party.

    4. Changing the children’s current place of abode without the written agreement of all parties or an order of this Court; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from changing such place of abode if an active prior court order gives that party the right to designate the children’s primary residence without geographic restriction, or if the new place of abode lies within the geographic limits established by that active prior court order.

    5. Disturbing the peace of the children.

    6. Making disparaging remarks about another party or another party’s family members, including but not limited to the child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, or anyone with whom the party has a dating relationship.

    7. Discussing with the children, or with any other person in the presence of the children, any litigation related to the children or the other party.

    8. If this is an original divorce action, allowing anyone with whom the party has a dating relationship to be in the same dwelling or on the same premises overnight while in possession of the child. Overnight is defined from 10:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

  1. CONDUCT OF THE PARTIES DURING THE CASE. All parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another party:

2.1 Using vulgar, profane, obscene, coarse, offensive, or indecent language to communicate with another party, whether in person, by telephone, or in writing, including by email, text message, or any other electronic communication.

    1. Threatening another party in person, by telephone, or in writing, including by email, text message, or any other electronic communication, to take unlawful action against the party, a member of the party’s family, including but not limited to anyone with whom the party has a dating relationship, or the party’s property.

    2. Placing or transmitting one or more telephone calls, emails, text messages, or other electronic communications to another party at an unreasonable hour, in an offensive or repetitious manner, anonymously, or without a legitimate purpose of communication.

  1. PRESERVATION OF PROPERTY AND USE OF FUNDS DURING DIVORCE CASE.

If this is a divorce case, both parties to the marriage are ORDERED to refrain from the following conduct:

    1. Destroying, removing, concealing, encumbering, transferring, or otherwise harming or reducing the value of the property of one or both of the parties, regardless of whether it is personal or real property and whether it is claimed as separate or community property.

    2. Misrepresenting or refusing to disclose to the other party or to the Court, on proper request, the existence, amount, or location of any property of one or both of the parties, regardless of whether it is personal or real property and whether it is claimed as separate or community property.

    3. Damaging, destroying or tampering with the tangible property of one or both of the parties, including any document that represents or embodies anything of value, regardless of whether it is personal or real property and whether it is claimed as separate or community property.

    4. Selling, transferring, assigning, mortgaging, encumbering, or in any other manner alienating any of the property of either party, regardless of whether it is personal or real property and whether it is claimed as separate or community property, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    5. Incurring any indebtedness, including cash advances from a credit card or line of credit, other than legal expense in connection with this suit, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    6. Making withdrawals from any account in any financial institution for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    7. Spending any sum of cash in either party’s possession or subject to either party’s control for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    8. Withdrawing or borrowing in any manner for any purpose from any retirement, profit­ sharing, pension, death, or other employee benefit plan or employee savings plan or from any individual retirement account or Keogh account, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    9. Signing or endorsing the others party’s name or any negotiable instrument, check, or draft, such as tax refunds, insurance payments, and dividends, or attempting to negotiate any negotiable instrument payable to the other party without the personal signature of the other party.

3. 10 Taking any action to terminate, close, restrict, or limit lines of credit, credit cards, charge cards, or financial accounts in the name of or subject to the control of the other party, whether owned individually or jointly, except by subsequent court order or written agreement signed by each party permitting such action.

    1. Entering, operating, or exercising control over the motor vehicle in the possession of the other party.

    2. Discontinuing or altering the withholding for federal income taxes on wages or salary while this suit is pending.

    3. Terminating or in any manner affecting the service of water, electricity, gas, telephone, cable television, or other contractual services, such as security, pest control, landscaping, or yard maintenance at the other party’s residence or in any manner attempting to withdraw any deposits for service in connection with such services.

    4. Unlawfully intercepting or recording the other party’s electronic communications.
    5. Opening or diverting mail addressed to the other party.
    6. Excluding a spouse from the use and enjoyment of the marital residence in which the spouse had been residing within the thirty (30) day period prior to the date the original petition for divorce was filed.

    7. Communicating with the other party’s employer or a person with whom the other party has a business relationship without a legitimate purpose.

3.18. Entering any safe deposit box in the name of or subject to the control of a party, whether owned individually or jointly, except by subsequent court order or written agreement signed by each party permitting such entrance.

  1. PERSONAL AND BUSINESS RECORDS IN DIVORCE CASE. If this is a divorce case, both parties to the marriage are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts:

    1. Concealing or destroying any family records, property records, financial records, business records or any records of income, debts, or other obligations.

    2. Falsifying any writing or record relating to the property of either party.

    3. “Records” includes e-mail or other digital or electronic data, whether stored on a computer hard drive, diskette or other electronic storage device.

  1. INSURANCE IN DIVORCE CASE. If this is a divorce case, both parties to the marriage are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts, except by written agreement signed by each party permitting such acts:

    1. Withdrawing or borrowing in any manner all or any part of the cash surrender value of life insurance policies on the life of either party, except as specifically authorized by this order or a subsequent order of this Court.

    2. Changing or in any manner altering the beneficiary designation on any life insurance on the life of either party or the parties’ children.

    3. Canceling, altering, or in any manner affecting any casualty, automobile, or health insurance policies insuring the parties’ property or persons including the parties’ minor children.

  1. SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATIONS IN DIVORCE CASE. If this is a divorce case, both parties to the marriage are specifically authorized to do the following:

    1. To engage in acts reasonably and necessary to the conduct of that party’s usual business and occupation.

    2. To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses in connection with this suit.

    3. To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable and necessary living expenses commensurate with such expenditures and indebtedness incurred for the past six months.

    4. To make withdrawals from accounts in financial institutions only for the purposes authorized by this order.

  1. SERVICE AND APPLICATION OF THIS ORDER.

    1. The Petitioner shall attach a copy of this order to the original petition and to each copy of the petition. At the time an original petition is filed by non-electronic means, if the Petitioner has failed to attach a copy of this order to the petition and any copy of the petition, the Clerk shall ensure that a copy of this order is attached to the petition and every copy of the petition presented. At the time an original petition is filed electronically, if the Petitioner has failed to attach a copy of this order to the petition and any copy of the petition, the Clerk shall decline to issue citation until the petition is resubmitted with a copy of this order attached in conformity with this section. Additionally, the Court may decline to grant temporary ex parte relief, decline to set a hearing in the case, or strike the petition without further notice if the Petitioner fails to resubmit the petition with a copy of this order attached in conformity with this section.

    2. This order is effective upon the filing of the original petition and shall remain in full force and effect as a temporary restraining order for fourteen days after the date of the filing of the original petition. The requirement of a bond is waived. If, after service, no party contests this order by presenting evidence at a hearing on or before fourteen days after the date of service of the original petition, this order shall continue in full force and effect as a temporary injunction until further order of this court. This entire order will terminate and will no longer be effective only upon further order of the court, entry of a final order or dismissal of the case.

    3. In addition to any other remedies available for the enforcement of this order, at the Court’s discretion, the Court may award reasonable and necessary attorney fees and court costs against a party found to have violated a provision of this order.

  1. EFFECT OF OTHER COURT ORDERS. If any part of this order is different from any part of a protective order that has already been entered or is later entered, the protective order provisions prevail. Any part of this order not changed by some later order remains in full force and effect until the court signs a final decree.

  1. PARTIES ENCOURAGED TO MEDIATE/COLLABORATE. The parties are encouraged to settle their disputes amicably without court intervention. The parties are encouraged to use alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or the collaborative law process, to resolve the conflicts that may arise in this lawsuit.

  1. PARENT EDUCATION AND STABILIZATION. If this is a suit affecting or seeking modification of the parent-child relationship, all parties are ORDERED to attend one of the following parent education and stabilization programs within sixty (60) days of the date of filing or service of the suit, as applicable:

    1. Children in the Middle (www.childreninthemiddle.com or 800-239-3971).
    2. Divorce Sanity Co-Parenting (www.ccdcounseling.com/divorce-sanity or 800-897-7068).
    3. Children Caught in the Middle (www.cema-nt.com/children_caught_in_the_middle_ or 940-381-5010).

Waiver of the requirement that both parents shall complete a parent education and stabilization program may only be granted by order of the court. Completion of online programs or programs not listed above will not be accepted without prior approval by the court for good cause shown. Proof of completion of the program must be filed with the court upon meeting this requirement. Failure to provide such proof in a timely manner may result in the cancellation of any scheduled hearing or trial and denial of requested relief at the Court’s Discretion.