Real Estate Lawyer and Denver Divorce Blog. (Vol 1.68) December 6, 2015
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a lawyer focusing in real estate law and divorce and family law in Littleton, Lakewood, Highlands Ranch, Roxborough Park, South Jeffco, and the surrounding areas, I often run into the issue of temporary orders.
If the case is simply a Colorado child custody case, the temporary orders concerns temporary parenting time, visitation, decision-making and child support. If it is a divorce, the case also includes temporary alimony or spousal support, temporary division of the parties personal property, assets and debts. Either way, the case may be subject to Temporary Orders.
The first thing to know, if you want temporary orders, you have to ask them for. Usually by written motion, and usually early on in the case, preferably at the initial status conference. No one is pushing your legal action through the court system, and if you want relief from the court in the form of temporary relief, you need to ask for it in a motion and follow-up and pursue it.
The second thing to know is that temporary orders are supposed to be temporary, to maintain the status quo until the case settles or the final permanent orders hearing date. The orders are "without prejudice" which means they are not binding on the court for permanent orders.
The purpose of the temporary orders is to help the parties survive financially temporarily. In a Colorado divorce, the permanent orders hearing could be seven or eight months down the road so temporary orders are significant part of the divorce process.
The third thing to know, although the temporary orders are legally temporary, they can easily become the basis for permanent orders. A divorce is an equitable proceeding. That means the court will apply the statutory factors as well as consider issues of fairness in rendering its decisions. While the temporary orders are not binding, the court can consider whatever evidence is brought up at the temporary orders hearing.
For example, if the child is placed with one parent over the other temporarily, and the child gets accustomed to that environment, gets used to his new school, and appears to thrive in his new environment, that becomes the status quo for the child.
Even if the parenting plan was supposed to be temporary, in applying the best interest standards as set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-124 and C.R.S. 14-10-129, the court is reluctant to change a parenting plan that it seems to be working.
In that sense, practically speaking, temporary orders may be legally temporary or without prejudice but in practice they often become the basis for permanent orders. It is important to properly investigate, negotiate, or litigate temporary order issues early on, and set a desirable pattern and precedent for the child. When it comes to disputes of custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, decision-making and parenting time, these types of cases are often lost or won on temporary orders.