May 1st, 2013

When Temporary Orders Are Necessary in Arizona Family Law Cases

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

Temporary Orders often needlessly increase the cost of a divorce or family law case in Arizona.   In many cases, the extra cost to get temporary orders that are only in place for a few months are not financially justifiable.  However, in certain cases, temporary orders are necessary to balance the power in a case and ensure that both sides have fair negotiating position and to ensure that the children are not improperly used in a tug-of-war.

Most typically, the issues sought in temporary orders are child support, spousal support, parenting time, and exclusive use of a house or vehicle.

Temporary exclusive use of a house or car is often sought when the parties are unable to reach an agreement as to how to temporarily get along.  Sometimes temporary use of a house is required because of domestic violence by one party.  Other times, one party has moved out of the house, but refuses to respect the privacy of the other party still in the house.  Often exclusive use of the house accompanies a battle over parenting time.

Hopefully the parties to any case can reach agreements as to parenting time so as not to involve the children in a tug-of war.  However, when both parents have different expectations about parenting time, it may be necessary to involve the court.

Courts may be asked to enter any orders on a temporary basis that the Court has jurisdiction to enter on a permanent basis.  Your attorney can help you understand the costs involved and the value of obtaining temporary orders in any given case to assist you in deciding whether it is worth pursuing.

The long term value of temporary orders needs to be discussed with an experienced attorney also.   On the one hand, the orders are temporary and in that line should have no long term effect.  The Court’s final orders should be retroactive and if the temporary orders were too low or too high, the difference should be resolved.

On the other hand, too often the temporary orders do have significant effect on the case, settlement, and even the trial. It is important to get appropriate orders in place when sought by either party.

When a Court has held a temporary orders hearing and ordered temporary spousal support (for example) of $1,000.00 per month, this has a significant persuasive effect on both parties.  Knowing that the Court has heard the evidence (even if it was the short version of the evidence) the court already determined this to be an appropriate amount.  Generally, this will carry significant weight in settlement discussions.  Additionally, there are many judges that will simply order that final orders begin from the date of the final trial forward and will leave the temporary orders as they were.

Temporary orders as to exclusive use of a house will also increase a party’s likelihood of getting the house when both parties are seeking to be awarded the house in the final orders. The Court will see that one party has already moved out and it will therefore be more simple to leave that party in the house.

Prior to pursuing temporary orders, speak with your attorney about what you hope to accomplish, the costs of seeking to obtain your desired result, and the potential long term consequences of seeking temporary orders.

If you are involved in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or other family law case, if you are involved in a case in which temporary orders may be necessary, and if you have determined that you need experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at