If you are going through the process of a divorce, you might feel as though things are moving slowly. Depending on your state, there might be a waiting period before your divorce can be finalized. Also, getting court dates can seem like a drawn-out process. You might be surprised to find out, then, that there are emergency court orders that can apply to divorce and custody cases. These orders can be doled out quickly and, in some cases, rather suddenly. Find out all about emergency court orders by reading below.
When Child Safety Is a Concern
One of the most common emergency court orders that pertain to a divorce happens when a child’s safety is at risk. If one spouse is abusive, addicted to drugs, or otherwise posing a danger to the children, the other spouse can ask for an emergency order granting him or her full custody on a temporary basis.
When you file your divorce petition, you can also file an emergency motion. This motion will need to spell out why you feel that your child is in danger. In most cases, you will need to show that there is clear and present harm. For example, if your spouse is beating your child, attaching documentation such as photographs or a doctor’s note can serve as evidence. In some cases, what you find dangerous will not prompt a judge to determine that the child is in clear and present harm. For instance, if you do not agree with your spouse’s decision to allow your teenager to stay out with no curfew, this will likely be looked at as a parenting decision and not as a matter that requires an emergency court order.
When Spousal Safety Is a Concern
Similarly, if you are the victim of domestic violence, you can ask for (and will usually be granted) an emergency protective order. This will make it illegal for your spouse to contact you or to show up at your home or your workplace. It functions in the same way as a restraining order; the difference is that an emergency protective order can be granted immediately, without a need for a hearing.
In some cases, domestic violence toward a spouse will also transfer concern for the children; if this is the case, you might be granted temporary full custody of your children until the judge can determine that the children will be safe in the care of your spouse.
When Financial Security Is a Concern
If you have been a stay-at-home parent or if you haven’t had a full-time job, it is reasonable to expect that it will take you some time to be able to find a job and become financially independent of your spouse. Also, if you have children, it is also reasonable to expect that the working spouse will pay child support. Since hearings can take a long time, the court will want the stay-at-home parent to have the financial means of taking care of themselves and the children in the meantime.
For this reason, a temporary emergency order for child support or spousal support (sometimes called alimony) can go into effect. This does not mean that the amount of money one spouse is ordered to pay the other will be the finalized amount. It will only serve to allow the non-working spouse to manage his or her living expenses and take care of the children.
When Shared Property or Assets Are a Concern
You have probably heard horror stories about one spouse draining the savings account, charging up a shared credit card, or selling a shared property during divorce proceedings, leaving the other spouse with nothing to his or her name. This is not generally allowed, and if you believe it will be a concern, a judge can order a freeze of shared accounts and that no shared property may be sold.
In cases where one spouse has already squandered or taken some of the marital assets, the judge might make reparations by giving the other spouse what is left, even if that would mean that the non-offending spouse gets a greater share of the assets. This would not be an emergency order, however, and it could take a while to settle, so it’s better to ask for an emergency order before it happens if you think your spouse might attempt to sell, give away, or spend your shared assets.
What Happens Next
After the emergency court order is in place, the judge will set a hearing date for somewhere in the near future. That is when he or she will hear the case and decide whether the emergency orders should stay in place for some defined amount of time (usually until the final hearing for your divorce or custody case). The order might be kept as is, modified in some way, or dropped altogether. Remember, this is still not the final verdict. You will still have a hearing for the divorce and child custody case themselves, and that is when the final determination of custody, child support, spousal support, and property allocation will be decided.
Getting Help With an Emergency Court Order
Filing or being served with an emergency court order can be stressful and overwhelming. It is important to have someone on your side who can explain what is going on and what your next course of action should be. You have a couple of options. Some people choose a private attorney. This is a good way to get an advocate, but it costs many thousands of dollars. Another way you can get an advocate on your side is by signing up with a legal resource group such as Family Law Legal Group. When you contact Family Law Legal Group, we will help you decide if a resource group is the right choice for you.