What’s A Temporary Hearing? How Temporary Is It?

The Temporary Hearing is more correctly called the Temporary Custody Hearing, or the Temporary Support Hearing, or the Temporary Relief Hearing because that’s what is decided at the hearing, most of the time. The name gets shortened by common usage, and it’s referred to as the Temporary Hearing. Remember this: IT’S NOT TEMPORARY AT ALL!

It’s referred to as temporary, as in “Let’s set up some temporary spousal support, so the spouse gets some money now, each week, and that will keep things quiet until the trial.” True, there may be a need for some spousal support, but the active words here are “until the trial”. Since you now know that the trial is fourteen months away, what happens at that temporary hearing is going to be operative (well it CAN be changed, but it’s a real pain) for the next several months, while you’re waiting (and waiting) for your trial date.

If your lawyer tells you “we can agree to this spousal support figure, it’s only temporary…” you might consider getting RID OF that lawyer. If your lawyer tells you “Well, here’s the figure. Now, this is important because it’s going to continue until we get a trial”, well, then, you’ve got an honest one, so be sure to pay her bill: you don’t want her to quit. Competent lawyers are worth keeping.

Common Requests for “temporary” relief

Here’s a list of common requests for “temporary” relief (there may be more, depending on how imaginative your lawyer really is: remember, you need to fit within the rules that we’ve already discussed, or you can’t get the relief):

  1. Request for temporary custody of minor children, and request for temporary child support.
  2. Request for the exclusive use of the marital home.(Or, in some cases, request for an order OF SALE of the marital home).
  3. Request for the exclusive use of a motor vehicle.
  4. Request for an injunction ordering that the Defendant leaves the Plaintiff on the health insurance as a beneficiary thereof. This motion will succeed: it’s reasonable.
  5. Request for injunction that neither party has access to the joint investment/brokerage account until the further order of the court.
  6. Request for Personal Protection Order, directing that defendant not come within 500 feet of Plaintiff, nor her residence, nor her children. This motion won’t succeed: it’s not reasonable
  7. Request for the award of attorneys fees.
  8. Request for spousal support.
  9. Request for Friend of the Court investigation, and recommendation, as to custody, support, visitation, or CHANGE in custody, support, or visitation.

And, in some cases, you get ALL OF THE ABOVE AND MORE.

Remember, the ruling here is going to last UNTIL THE TRIAL. If you want that ruling to be in your favor, or along terms you can live with, you’d better spend some time with your lawyer, have him/her file an appropriate response to the other sides request (or file YOUR request with enough detail and supporting documents), and get your facts straight, prior to the hearing. Get your lawyer prepared. The lawyer is brand new to this case and doesn’t know everything you do. Inform your lawyer of the relevant facts (he or she will probably be doing most of the questioning), but don’t bore him to tears with trivial detail. After all, you’re paying by the hour.

But at the hearing, when your lawyer starts talking, or when the other lawyer starts talking, it’s too late to change direction, for the most part.(Although I’ve seen lawyers change direction in mid-argument faster than Dennis Rodman reverses after he grabs that rebound when they think it helps the client: half a loaf is still better than none).

Plan on attending the temporary hearing, along with your lawyer. While you observe the arguments ahead of or behind yours, you’ll get a feel for just how your case is fitting in, compared to the rest. You’ll also see what the judge does for a living, which is basically listening to a bunch of pain-in-the-ass lawyers argue for a bunch of pain-in-the-ass people who are trying to maintain unreasonable positions. You’ll also see a great deal of “street justice” dished out. The judge has to make snap decisions, after five minutes of argument, that will affect people’s lives for the better or for the worse, and it’s all a matter of public record, and it’s all done right there in front of God and everybody. And the courtroom’s packed. There must be forty different motions up for today, which means about eighty lawyers (although many of the lawyers are there on more than one case: more on this later), and eighty litigants, sitting there waiting.