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by Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Perhaps the most important event in any divorce proceeding is the temporary hearing. While it is "temporary", the rules of the game for this particular divorce, are often set at the temporary hearing. When the word "temporary" is used, it is used in the context of until their is a final order of the court , which usually does not occur until the final hearing. The word interim is actually a better word to describe what is meant by a Temporary Order.

How to Request. In order to get a Temporary Hearing, the petitioner (the person who started the action) must file either a motion for a temporary order, or an order to show cause. Occasionally, if the petitioner does not file a request for a Temporary Hearing, the respondent may do so. ISuch papers will indicate where and when such hearing is to be held and before whom; which in almost all cases is the Family Court Commissioner of a given county. Such papers will also dictate what both parties are to bring to such hearing.

The Role of the Family Court Commissioner. The Family Court Commissioner is essentially an assistant judge, who is given broad authority to make orders in the divorce on a "temporary basis." Such orders will include who shall have interim custody of the children, who shall be awarded the parties assets, including the residence, on an interim basis, how much child support shall be paid and by whom; who shall pay the respective obligations of the parties and whether any additional support (known as "maintenance") shall be paid to either party.

What to Bring to the Temporary Hearing? Most counties require that parties bring a completed financial statement and pay stubs to the Temporary Hearing. The financial statement should at a minimum show the parties gross and net pay, and each category of living expenses. In addition, it should contain information on debts of the parties, as well as a listing of the primary assets of the party.

Standard Orders. In almost every case, the parties will be required to continue all insurance, avoid harrassing conduct of the other party and will be restrained from incurring further debt against the credit of the other party.

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