Getting the Relief you Need: How long Will it Take?

Baby in high chairBroadly speaking there are two types of relief during a domestic relations action: temporary and permanent relief.

Temporary relief is awarded while the action is pending and therefore, typically near the beginning of the case (provided your lawyer requests it on your behalf). For example, the judge may order one spouse to pay temporary child support or temporary maintenance to the other spouse while the case is pending.

Permanent relief is awarded at the end of the case and is part of the final judgment. A common question is: why even have temporary relief? Why not determine the final, permanent award and end the case? Temporary relief is typically granted when the judge and the parties are still gathering information about the case. For instance, all of the financial information about the case might not be disclosed at the time that some form of relief is needed (e.g. child support) and both sides need more time for that process, called discovery, to take place. It is better to receive some temporary relief, that will be based on whatever existing evidence and testimony is available at that time, than none at all.

Depending on whether your petition requesting relief is presented to the court as an emergency or on the court’s regular call (as a non-emergency) will dictate how long it will take for the court hear your case and make a ruling. The court tries to hear cases as quickly as it can. If the parties can resolve the issue by agreement, that is usually the faster and least expensive means.

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