To understand the purpose of cross-motions in divorce, you first must understand the definition of a motion. A motion is a request for a ruling on an issue. The motion may seek a remedy, a specific form of relief, an order prohibiting the other party from doing something, or an order requiring the other party to do something. Typically, attorneys write and file motions with the court in advance of a hearing; however, depending on the preference of the judge, the court might be willing to hear oral motions raised for the first time during the court proceedings.
Motions in Divorce Cases
Motions in divorce cases can occur either prior to the divorce being granted (pretrial motions), or after the granting of the divorce. Pretrial divorce motions include:
- Motions for alimony, sometimes referred to as maintenance, during a pending divorce case
- Motions for child support during a pending divorce
- Motions for a continuance
- Motions for no-contact orders or restraining orders
After a divorce is complete and the court has issued the divorce decree and order, the parties may still file motions. These motions typically include:
- Motions for a new trial
- Motions for reconsideration based on newly discovered evidence
- Motions for modification of child support
- Motions for modification of alimony
- Motions for modification of child custody
- Motions for an order to show cause, which instructs a party who is not in compliance with the court order to explain why they shouldn't be held in contempt for violating the court's order
Neither of these lists is exhaustive, but they illustrate the types of motions parties often file during and after divorce proceedings.
Cross-Motions in Divorce Cases
During divorce proceedings, both sides file motions asking the court for things favorable to their side. A party files a cross-motion in direct response to a motion. For instance, one side might file a motion for a no-contact order for the duration of the divorce proceedings. In that motion, the husband might ask the court to order the wife to have no contact with him except through their lawyers. The wife could then file a cross-motion asking the court to order the husband to have no contact with her except through their lawyers.
While some cross-motions ask for the same treatment, other cross-motions ask for different treatment. For example, one party may file a motion with the court that seeks permission to sell stocks to pay for a child's private school tuition. The other party may file a cross-motion, asking the court to prohibit the sale of the stocks to pay for tuition.
Post-divorce, the process works the same. The court might award joint and physical custody of the children to the husband of the marriage. The wife could then file a motion for reconsideration based on newly discovered evidence. Then the husband may file a cross-motion, asking the court not to reconsider the issue. The cross-motion might argue, for example, that the evidence the wife points to is not newly discovered and therefore is not a proper legal basis under which to reopen the proceedings.
Divorce can be a messy process. People are entitled to represent themselves in a divorce, but most courts encourage people to seek legal representation to assist them in the process. However, some people choose not to dedicate their resources to hiring an attorney. At a minimum, consulting an online service provider is probably a good idea.
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