Temporary Orders Vs. Permanent Orders in a Divorce

By Beverly Bird

The divorce process can take a considerable time from beginning to end. Often, it’s impractical or even impossible for a couple to wait until the end of the road to decide issues such as custody and support. All states have a system in place to allow spouses to petition the court for temporary orders to maintain the status quo until their divorces are final. In legalese, these are “pendente lite” orders, which means “pending a final decree.”

The divorce process can take a considerable time from beginning to end. Often, it’s impractical or even impossible for a couple to wait until the end of the road to decide issues such as custody and support. All states have a system in place to allow spouses to petition the court for temporary orders to maintain the status quo until their divorces are final. In legalese, these are “pendente lite” orders, which means “pending a final decree.”

Issues Subject to Temporary Orders

Temporary or pendente lite divorce orders can only address issues the court can undo later, if necessary. For example, courts won’t order the sale of marital property in a temporary order, because after its sale, it can’t be brought back into the marital estate for distribution between spouses at the time of the divorce. Courts will usually allow the sale of a home pending divorce if both spouses are in agreement, rather than lose the buyer. However, a pendente lite order would direct that the proceeds of the sale be held in escrow until property distribution can be decided at trial. Some pendente lite orders, called injunctions or stays, prevent spouses from selling assets until a court can address their distribution. However, temporary orders usually address issues such as spousal support, child support and custody. They set rules in place until a divorce is final.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Duration of Temporary Orders

Temporary orders are applicable only while a divorce is pending. Their sole purpose is to preserve the status quo until the court reaches a final decision or the couple agrees to a settlement. The terms of a divorce decree supersede and terminate temporary orders. Pendente lite orders remain in effect from the date the court signs them until the date of the decree.

Effect on Final Judgment

The terms of temporary orders often carry over into a final decree. Although a pendente lite order officially ends when the judge signs the decree, its terms may be repeated in the decree. This is often the case with temporary child support orders. Courts base child support calculations on the incomes of both parents. Unless one parent has had a radical change of circumstance during the pendency of the divorce, there’s no need to recalculate support all over again. Temporary custody orders sometimes set a precedent and create a routine for children that judges are reluctant to disturb. Courts are more likely to adjust the terms of temporary alimony or spousal support orders in a final decree, because the value of property distributed to each spouse is sometimes a factor in alimony calculations.

Modification

Temporary orders are rarely subject to appeal or modification pending trial. By their very nature, a judge will address their issues again at trial anyway. When the terms of temporary orders carry over into a final divorce judgment, some are modifiable and others are not. Terms addressing marital property generally cannot be undone after they’re incorporated into a judgment. However, support and custody terms are always modifiable whenever there’s a change of circumstance.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Differences Between Temporary Child Custody and Permanent

References

Related articles

Can a Non-Modifiable Alimony Agreement Be Modified in Ohio?

Most alimony awards in Ohio are non-modifiable unless they contain language that reserves the court's jurisdiction to do so. This is true whether you terminate your marriage by dissolution or divorce. Dissolution simply means you and your spouse have reached an agreement on marital terms, such as alimony, while divorce means the court resolved one or more of these issues for you. Unless the terms of your agreement or decree give the court authority to later modify alimony, it is likely that your alimony order will remain intact unless you can prove fraud, misrepresentation or mistake.

Is a Florida Pre-Trial Order a Divorce?

In terms of emotional ties, a marriage may end quickly, but obtaining a legal divorce can take months or even years. Thus, Florida law allows judges to issue temporary orders to govern divorcing spouses' conduct before the divorce is final. These pre-trial orders do not take the place of a divorce, since they do not dissolve the marriage, but the court can incorporate them into the final divorce decree.

Requirements for Filing for Pendente Lite Relief in Maryland Divorce Law

Divorces can drag on for several months or more, particularly if the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce. Since the court doesn’t issue a divorce decree until the end of the divorce process, Maryland allows its courts to enter temporary orders, called pendente lite, after the divorce is filed but before it is finalized. However, courts do not automatically grant pendente lite relief, so the spouse who wants these temporary orders must make a special request to the court.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can One Spouse Take Marital Assets Out of the Home Before the Divorce in Florida?

Florida couples contemplating divorce often separate before the divorce is final, and they may want to split their ...

How Long Can Temporary Custody Last?

The word temporary can be somewhat deceptive when it comes to divorce law. Technically, it refers to pendente lite ...

What If a Child Custody Decision Has Been Made But Changes Occur?

It's not a foregone conclusion that parents move into separate households the minute they decide to divorce; many ...

Are Restraining Orders Standard for a Divorce?

A restraining order prevents a person from taking a certain action, and two types of restraining orders are common in ...

Browse by category