What Is a Petition for Special Relief in a Divorce?

By Kelly Mroz

In a divorce, courts can grant special or extraordinary relief, which is relief beyond what the law typically provides for in a divorce. The court will typically only grant this special relief until the matter can be more permanently resolved through the final divorce decree. You might ask the court to freeze your spouse's assets, keep your name on a life insurance policy or maintain payment of the household bills. Some states have laws that specify what kinds of special relief are available. Other states allow you to seek the same kinds of relief in a divorce, but don't use the term special relief.

In a divorce, courts can grant special or extraordinary relief, which is relief beyond what the law typically provides for in a divorce. The court will typically only grant this special relief until the matter can be more permanently resolved through the final divorce decree. You might ask the court to freeze your spouse's assets, keep your name on a life insurance policy or maintain payment of the household bills. Some states have laws that specify what kinds of special relief are available. Other states allow you to seek the same kinds of relief in a divorce, but don't use the term special relief.

Types of Relief

The type of relief available varies by state and may not include all of the types of relief available in other states. You may be able to obtain injunctive relief; that is, to require your spouse to do something or refrain from doing something, such as freezing a bank account or preventing the removal of personal property from the marital home. If you need money to stay afloat temporarily, you may be able to get an order requiring payments on the mortgage, alimony or child support until a more permanent order can be issued. Some courts also consider temporary restraining orders or emergency custody provisions to be forms of special relief.

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

Other Common Terms

State courts use different terms to describe unusual relief in a divorce action. Some states, like New York and Pennsylvania, use the term "special relief." Your state may call it temporary, extraordinary or pendente lite relief. The Latin term "pendente lite" refers to relief that is granted temporarily, while the divorce action is pending.

State Variations

Special relief varies by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, the law specifically lists some relief the courts can provide, such as protecting assets, but also allows the court to provide any relief that is needed in the case. New York law uses the term 'special relief,' but in a much more limited way, relating only to insurance policies. Courts in New York can require one party to obtain or maintain health and life insurance for the benefit of his spouse or minor children. In Illinois, on the other hand, you can get a broad range of relief, such as freezing assets, exclusive possession of the marital home or division of household bills, but it is called 'temporary relief,' rather than 'special relief.'

Special Relief Petition

To get special relief, you have to file a petition and explain the reasons you need the court to grant your request. Some states will require that you attach additional proof of your allegations, such as sworn affidavits by witnesses. While the exact procedure and requirements will vary by state, generally you file your petition with the court where the divorce is pending and a hearing date is assigned. In most cases, you must notify the opposing party of your petition and hearing date, and provide proof to the court that you made the notification. After the hearing, the court will only approve the relief if it agrees that what you are asking for is fair and appropriate.

Ex Parte Special Relief

In true emergencies, you may be able to get the court to issue an order without your spouse being present. This kind of relief is called ex parte relief and is only granted temporarily to prevent irreparable harm before a hearing can be held. While ex parte relief is most commonly used in custody actions, it may also be issued in a divorce in which one spouse is at risk of severe financial harm due to the actions of the other, such as to prevent assets from disappearing or to restore insurance coverage.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Motion for Emergency Money in a Divorce

References

Related articles

How to Get Another Copy of a Name Change Certificate

You can request a certified copy of the order to change your name from the issuing court for legal proof of the new name. Both the local Social Security office and state department of motor vehicles will ask for official proof of the change when you change your name on your state identification and Social Security card. Using identification that shows your new name makes using that name much easier. You also need a copy if you want to change your name on your birth certificate and for other entities, such as your bank.

Can a Divorce Be Denied?

Depending on your state’s laws, the state court can decline to grant your divorce, but it won’t deny a divorce simply because one spouse does not want it. To avoid denial, you must ensure that you fully comply with all of your court’s rules, and you must provide sufficient proof of whatever ground you are alleging in your divorce paperwork.

Documents Needed for the Respondents in a Divorce Summons

Receiving notice that your spouse filed for divorce can be a stressful experience. Most states require that the filing spouse have the other spouse personally served with the divorce paperwork, which typically includes both a summons and complaint. These documents provide a basic outline of the case and explain your initial responsibilities. Knowing how and when you must respond to this paperwork will help ensure your full participation in all aspects of the divorce process.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can a Spouse Ask for Financial Assistance From Her Spouse During a Divorce?

Divorces can last months and sometimes years. Many people in the midst of divorce find the financial burden ...

Are Savings Accounts Frozen During a Divorce in North Carolina?

As a spouse contemplating divorce in North Carolina, you are likely consumed by the necessary issues that must be ...

What Is a Motion to Expedite Consideration in a Divorce Case?

The divorce process can involve all kinds of emergency situations. Maybe your spouse is threatening to take your child ...

How Does Georgia Define Verbal Abuse in a Divorce Case?

Georgia law allows couples to divorce due to verbal abuse, but only if the abuse rises to the level of "cruel ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED