By: Katie L. Lewis, JD of Cordell & Cordell, PC
When a party files for divorce, it is sometimes necessary for there to be a hearing on Temporary Orders. A hearing on Temporary Orders can be requested by either party and may occur at anytime during the pendency of the divorce action. The hearing allows the Court to make orders in relation to custody, possession and access, child support, spousal support and the allocation of assets and debts. These orders usually remain in full force and full effect until the divorce is granted or they may be modified prior to the finalization of the divorce.
There are many things a person can do in order to have a successful Temporary Orders hearing. In order to efficiently communicate with your attorney, it is helpful to make a top ten list of things you want to request the Court order on a temporary basis. This list will enable you and your attorney to focus on what is most important, not only temporarily, but in the long run as well.
Most Courts require each party to produce a Financial Information Statement at the Temporary Orders hearing. The Financial Information Statement is a snapshot of the party’s monthly expenses and income. The Court will examine each party’s Financial Information Statement when setting child support, temporary spousal support, the payment of debts, and the award of assets. In addition, a party should supply their attorney with their three most recent pay stubs and most recent tax return prior to the Temporary Orders hearing.
A party should wear a suit or slacks, dress shirt and tie when appearing in Court. When on the witness stand, the party should listen very carefully to the question presented and answer only the question that was asked. Failure to answer a question directly will result in opposing counsel objecting and the Judge ordering the question to be answered. When answering a question that has been presented by either attorney, speak to the Judge. The Judge is the only person you should be concerned about convincing. A party will never be able to convince opposing counsel and has already convinced their own attorney. The Judge is the most important person in the courtroom. After all, it is the Judge who will decide what direction the case will take and how the parties will conduct their affairs in the mean time.
It is opposing counsel’s job to present a case that is most favorable to their client. Therefore, each party’s actions and decisions will be strictly scrutinized, not only at the Temporary Orders hearing, but throughout the case. When answering opposing counsel’s questions, no matter how unfavorable the truth may be to your case, you must answer truthfully. Your attorney will be able to come back and ask you questions and clear up any issues that have may have painted you in a bad light.
While each state has different statues and different rules of civil procedure, these basic concepts are universal when preparing for a successful Temporary Orders hearing.
Katie L. Lewis is an Associate Attorney of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. Dallas, Texas office where she practices exclusively in family law.