Tonight's post on temporary hearings in divorce was written by our
lead Marietta divorce attorney, Jeannine Lowery.
Getting divorced is a process, which usually
involves many steps before it's all over. If there are children, or one spouse who needs
immediate financial support, one of those steps will be a temporary hearing,
which is also called a Rule Nisi.
Temporary hearings can be requested at the time a divorce is filed and
can be used to establish temporary child support, temporary alimony and
even a visitation schedule for the children. Temporary hearings are particularly
handy to afford relief in emergencies, like where the parties can no longer
live in the same house or one spouse is refusing the other visitation
with their children.
Temporary hearings can cause stress because of the mere fact they take
place in a courtroom in front of a Judge or Judicial Officer. However,
temporary hearings are nothing to stress over and can be a great tool
to establish some support and structure while your moving through the
First things first, expect to wait around.
Much like attendance at the first day of school, temporary hearings usually
begin with a roll call. After taking the bench, the Judge will formally
call out the style of each case on the calendar, "John Smith v. Jane
Smith" to make sure the parties are present. There may be just a
few cases on the calendar or dozens.
Once your case is called, your lawyer will stand and make an announcement.
This announcement lets the Court know some basic things, including which
party the lawyer represents, what the hearing is for, and how long the
attorney believes a hearing will take. Depending on the number of cases
that need to be heard, you may be waiting around for some time.
Expect your lawyer to reach an agreement without a hearing.
After the calendar is called, the Judge will usually give the attorneys,
or parties if they have not hired attorneys, an opportunity to discuss
the issues in the case before beginning the hearing. This opportunity
for negotiation often leads to the parties settling and agreeing on a
temporary consent order, thus avoiding the cost and acrimony of a hearing
altogether. Even a partial settlement resolving certain issues can help
save costs by reducing the time required for a hearing.
Pretrial conference with the Judge.
In some cases your attorney might request a pretrial conference with the
judge in order to determine what the judge is likely to do and what the
worst - case scenario might be if the hearing goes forward. If your attorney
decides they need the judge's input to make the best decision, they
will notify the other attorney. Then both your attorney and your spouses
attorney will approach the bench or go into the Judge's chambers and
discuss the issue with the Judge asking specific questions.
After the Judge makes an informal assessment about the case, your attorney
will report back to you the results and use this information to decide
whether a hearing will help you reach your goals. Pretrial conferences
are a great cost saving tool because they can help parties assess the
risk of letting the Judge decide in a very expedient format.
If the hearing goes forward.
Once the Judge calls the calendar, he or she will announce a schedule for
the cases that are ready to be heard. Your case could be heard immediately,
later that same day, or even another day of that week. Temporary hearings
are similar to a final trial in that your lawyer will have an opening
statement, present your case, including evidence, and present a closing
statement. Your attorney may ask you to testify and cross-examine your
spouse. However, temporary hearings are usually shorter and less formal
than a final trial. Temporary hearings are a good opportunity for your
lawyer to introduce the facts of your case to the judge and set the stage
and tone for the final trial.
What ever happens, its temporary.
Temporary hearings are not a final Judgment. That means that while you
may have to live with the results for the divorce process, the Final Order
can end up completely different than the temporary Order. That being said,
temporary Orders can be a great tool to establish custody, child support
and a visitation schedule, bringing order and consistency to the lives
of both parents and children during the divorce process. They can also
provide immediate relief if one party is not cooperating or acting fairly.
Temporary hearings are nothing to stress over but rather are a useful tool
to create a temporary order that will set the ground rules during the