Temporary Relief – Providing Temporary Orders in a South Carolina Divorce Case
For many people who are filing for divorce in South Carolina, one of the scariest parts of divorce can be a worry about economic well-being. To be sure, many people are financially dependent upon their spouse, and a separation or divorce can mean an end to much-needed funds.
At The Cate Law Firm, we understand that if you are financially dependent upon your spouse, you may have questions about going through with your divorce and what you will do when you no longer have access to shared funds. When you are in this position, our experienced South Carolina divorce attorneys can help you to file a motion for temporary relief. Temporary hearings and orders can be used to determine many temporary issues in a divorce.
What Is Temporary Relief/ a Temporary Order?
Before a temporary order will be issued by the family court, the court will conduct a hearing. During the hearing, the court learns as much about the issues as possible, but its objective is not to determine which party is right or wrong. Rather, the goal of a temporary hearing is to determine what “ground rules” the parties will live under until a final order (or subsequent temporary order in some cases) is issued in their case. A temporary order is enforceable and binding until a final judgment is issued, but can be changed by the final order.
What Issues Can Be Addressed Via a Temporary Order?
There are numerous requests for temporary relief that can be filed with the court, depending on the circumstances. Most commonly, a motion may seek a temporary order that addresses the following matters in divorce:
- Temporary spousal support/maintenance. One of the most common reasons people seek temporary relief orders is to receive temporary spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony. This may be necessary while the divorce is pending, and the maintenance-seeking spouse is unable to support themselves or maintain the standard of living acquired during the course of the marriage. Remember, a temporary spousal support award will only be valid until the point that a final judgment is issued, although such support could be continued in a final order as well.
- Temporary child custody and visitation. In addition to spousal support, a temporary order may be sought to get a legally binding court order regarding with whom a child should primarily live until a divorce is finalized. Parents may be designated as a sole or joint custodian, and a visitation schedule will typically be issued between the parties while the divorce action is pending. The temporary period may also be used to allow a Guardian ad Litem the opportunity to investigate and determine if changes need to be made to custody and visitation for the long-term to serve a child’s best interests.
- Temporary orders for contributions to monthly expenses. Just because a couple has filed for divorce does not mean that their fixed monthly expenses – such as rent/mortgage, utility costs, car payments, healthcare expenses, insurance, etc. – will cease. To ensure these payments are still made, a court may order one party to contribute for monthly expenses to the other, until the divorce is finalized and each party is responsible for their own monthly expenses.
- Temporary use and possession of real and personal property. Oftentimes couples have not worked through who will get to live in the marital home during the divorce litigation, so courts often issue temporary orders dictating which party will stay in the home. The court may also issue a temporary order relating to temporary use and possession of each party’s vehicle, although most asset and debt division issues are not addressed at a temporary hearing unless use thereof or payment thereon is of immediate concern.
What Happens During a Hearing for an Order for Temporary Relief?
While there is nothing that is stress-free about divorce, attending a hearing for an order for temporary relief is very straightforward, and is typically relatively quick. The goal is to present evidence to support your position on the temporary issues and explain why the court should grant you the relief you’re seeking. The South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 21 governs the mode of presentation for temporary hearings. It states that evidence will be “confined to pleadings, affidavits, and final declarations…” Sometimes brief argument by each attorney is also allowed. Typically, you will not give any testimony to the court to support your motion, nor will any witnesses. Instead, you will submit a financial declaration and written affidavits at the hearing. Most hearings are set for 15 or 30 minutes, so it’s critical to make your points clearly and succinctly, since the judge won’t have much time to review the information.
Will My Final Order and Temporary Order Be the Same?
Many people make the mistake of assuming that their temporary relief order and their final judgement will be the same. While this is certainly possible, there are situations in which a temporary relief order and a final judgement are very different. For example, the court may temporarily award your spouse primary custody of your child because your spouse is the primary caregiver, but may determine after the temporary period that shared custody is ideal, and is what is within the child’s best interests. Another example involves spousal support – a court may award you a large temporary maintenance amount, but after you acquire a job, that amount may diminish significantly, or be eliminated entirely, depending upon your education, training, earnings, and other factors.
Helping You To Secure Temporary Relief and a Final Judgement in Your Favor
Seeking the representation of an experienced South Carolina family law attorney is highly advised prior to the temporary hearing stage. An attorney will know when you can file a motion for temporary relief, how to help compose and submit affidavits and a financial declaration, what if any exhibits should be included, and what to do if a temporary relief order does not result in your favor. Further, an experienced South Carolina family law attorney can guide you in understanding the effect a temporary relief order may have on a final order, and how to prepare for a hearing for a final divorce order that supports your interests.
At The Cate Law Firm, P.A., our talented South Carolina divorce lawyers are here to support you. We have the years of experience, the knowledge of South Carolina law, and the commitment to our clients that you are looking for. If you are going through a divorce, contact us today to learn more about how our law offices can help you. Call our office at (864) 585-4226.