Step 3: Temporary Orders; the Road Map for the Future

After the defendant has been served or has entered an appearance, one or both parties usually file a motion asking the court for temporary orders. These deal with important issues such as:
• Who has to move out
• Who has physical custody of the kids (where they live)
• Who has legal custody of the kids (who chooses their doctor)
• Visitation issues (parenting plan)
• Spousal support and/or child support
• Other financial issues such as who pays the mortgage, medicals bills, tuition, etc.
Obviously, these are all compelling and important issues which differ widely from family to family. If the issues can be resolved between the parties, or the parties and their lawyers, then their agreement can be brought to court in the form of a joint stipulation which the judge will (usually) approve and adopt as a court order. The judge will send the parties to Family Service to mediate unresolved issues. Issues remaining after mediation will be decided by the Judge after hearing from both sides.
Before going to Court your attorney should help you prepare a financial statement (there are two – for those with income over $75k and for those with income under $75k.)  It is one of the most important documents you will file. It MUST be accurate and it should explain any financial matters that require explanation.
Do not underestimate the importance of temporary orders. They can become a baseline for the final outcome. Also, financial and family pressure from an unfavorable order can place a litigant at a serious tactical disadvantage.


  1. Does a motion for temporary orders have to be filed at the same time as a complaint for separate custody/visitation?

  2. Hi there,
    No, in Massachusetts you usually file the complaint and serve the opposing party and then file motions, you can serve them with the complaint too if you wish.
    Good luck!
    This Blog/Web Site and email response is made available by Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine and Burns & Levinson LLP for educational purposes only – i.e. to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice in relation to any situation you or anyone else may have. There is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher, Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine or Burns & Levinson LLP. The information on this Blog/Web Site and email response should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state engaged by you for such purpose.

  3. Just a question …
    Has anyone ever heard of a divorce judge granting temp support for 2 years while divorce was going on , which spouse paid without a problem , then vacating it in the divorce judgement ??? The paying spouse’s situation was the same when the judge ordered it as it was when the judge stopped it. There are no minor children involved and I never worked through the 22 + year marriage.
    Does this sound like an abuse of power on the judge’s part ????

Comments are closed.