The Uses of Ex Parte and Temporary Orders

Once you decide to file for divorce, you probably want the process to be over as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, getting a divorce takes time. Temporary orders can protect you, your children and your property while the divorce is pending.

Temporary orders

The court may grant a temporary order of child custody, parenting time, child support or spousal support and can provide that the other spouse's income be withheld to ensure that the support is paid. A party may also ask for a temporary restraining order to prevent the other spouse from hiding assets or changing the beneficiary of an insurance policy or a trust.

It is always better to try to work out these issues privately with your spouse and his or her attorney if possible. In many cases in which you are asking for an asset injunction and/or status quo order (forbidding the other party from changing the manner in which the marital expenses are paid during the divorce case), the other party is likely to agree to the request as long as the order is mutual.

We think these orders are a good idea even in the most amicable divorces -- they prevent unpleasant surprises. However, once such an order is issued, you should be aware it may prevent you from withdrawing money from an account unless your spouse agrees, even if that account is in your name. Typically, exceptions are made for living expenses or to pay your attorney. It is very important to think and plan ahead, since you are bound by the order for an indefinite amount of time until your divorce is final.

If the two parties cannot agree on these issues, then you can take the matter to court. In cases involving child custody, parenting time or child support, the parties often meet with the Friend of the Court first to try to work out an agreement before the judge will hear the dispute. (The Friend of the Court is a unit in the Family Division of the Circuit Court that provides services to parties with minor children.) Other issues do not have to go through the Friend of the Court and go directly to the judge.

Ex parte orders

An ex parte order is a type of temporary order granted without the other spouse being given notice or an opportunity to respond. Ex parte orders are usually granted upon the initial filing of the divorce case. Typical ex parte orders include asset injunctions and/or status quo orders. Ex parte orders are also granted for emergency situations, such as a case where there is a fear that one spouse will leave the state or country with the children or when there is of domestic violence (which, in Michigan, are referred to as Personal Protection Orders).

After an ex parte order is issued by the court, your spouse is served with a copy and has 14 days to object to the order. Even if an objection is filed, the ex parte order is still in force until you have a hearing. If no objection is filed within 14 days, the order is converted into a temporary order that is in effect until the divorce is granted.

If you believe that your circumstances warrant a temporary or ex parte order, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins immediately. We believe that cooperation with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is always the best option, when it is possible. When it is not, we represent you vigorously and aggressively to make sure that your rights and property are protected.