Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.43) September 15, 2014
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a Littleton lawyer practicing family law, custody, divorce and real estate law in the Denver area, including Littleton (including Columbine and Ken Caryl), Highlands Ranch, Roxborough Park, and Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson County, I am often asked the question: Do I need temporary orders in my divorce?
Temporary orders, and especially temporary maintenance or alimony, used to be a given. There was even a presumptive formula the court used in determining temporary alimony. The Colorado maintenance statute was recently rewritten to give presumptive spousal maintenance based on the length of the marriage at Permanent Orders. The revised statute also gives the court more discretion in awarding temporary spousal maintenance or alimony.
The purpose of temporary orders is to maintain the status quo. Temporary orders determine who resides in the marital home, who pays the mortgage, the car payments, and other bills, and what the children's parenting time with each parent will be.
These issues sound routine, but in a divorce one household is divided into two households, and living expenses such as rent usually increase substantially. Also, both parties' finances are drained by attorneys fees, especially if the case is contentious.
A couple's finances are often intertwined and disorganized. In addition, divorce brings out the worst in people and bills that a party once happily paid become great sources of dispute and turmoil. One party will often use his or her own financial advantage as a weapon for revenge in the divorce.
Most courts will give only one or two hours for a temporary orders hearing. Temporary orders are "without prejudice" which means they are not binding on the court at Permanent Orders. Because a divorce is an equitable proceeding, the courts apply a different legal standard to what is equitable or fair temporarily and what is equitable or fair permanently.
Each case is different, but there is always a time lapse between the time the divorce is filed to the time the divorce is finalized. In fact, the statutory minimum for a divorce in Colorado is 91 days; that is the minimum time to get a divorce in Colorado. Given this lag in time, and the practical consideration that court hearings in Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Douglas County are often set out months in advance---and then those hearings are often continued, it could easily take a year to finalize a divorce.
If the parties to the divorce are amicable--which is rare--temporary orders can be determined privately by agreement of the parties or by the conduct of the parties without court intervention. However, amicable divorces often turn sour, and my best advice is to put temporary orders in writing immediately when the divorce is filed --or request a temporary orders hearing early on.
In my own cases, I usually recommend that a party request temporary orders and a temporary orders hearing as soon as the divorce is filed.