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.”

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.

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.

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

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.


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
Non-Modifiable Divorce Laws in Florida


Related articles

Difference Between a Final Divorce Decree & a Settlement Agreement

When getting a divorce, spouses deal with the emotions involved with feelings that may range from sadness, anger and disillusionment to resignation and acceptance. They deal with the day-to-day needs of any children involved as well as the physical movement of property from one location to another. The court will require the spouses to convert those feelings, emotions and decisions to black and white in the form of a settlement agreement or the court will decide the terms of their divorce by decree after hearing the issues.

What Is an Agreed Entry in a Divorce?

When spouses agree to part ways and concur on all aspects of how they’re going to divorce, there’s no need for a court to get involved. A judge only needs to make their deal official. Spouses can submit their settlement to the court and jointly request to end the marriage; this becomes an agreed entry of divorce. They can handle post-divorce issues in the same manner if changes occur that require modification of their agreement.

Revocable Trusts & Divorce

Revocable trusts are arrangements in which the maker of the trust, called the settlor, transfers property to another person to hold for the benefit of a beneficiary, but retains the right to revoke the trust and pull the property back into his own estate. While advantageous in terms of avoiding probate--and keeping irresponsible beneficiaries from wasting trust property--revocable trusts can create complications in divorce cases for settlors and beneficiaries.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Define Contested Divorce

If you can’t reach an agreement with your spouse regarding how to end your marriage, your divorce is contested. ...

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 ...

Types of Custody Motions

When parents contest custody, it's usually one of the first things a court will rule on in a divorce -- at least ...

Differences Between Temporary Child Custody and Permanent

Most state courts base custody decisions on the best interests of the children. Many legislative codes are vague about ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED