Once a divorce begins seeking temporary relief in divorce court proceedings is very common. Emotions are usually running high when the divorce proceedings are initiated after a breakdown in a marriage. It’s not unusual for divorcing couples to find themselves unable to resolve even the smallest issues without needing assistance from the court. For that reason, pursuant to Section 501 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501), Illinois law enables judges to enter what we refer to as “temporary orders”.
Temporary Relief Meaning and Status Quo Ante
Status Quo Ante is a Latin phrase meaning “the previously existing state.” When parties are having trouble getting along and cannot come to an agreement on their own, there’s a need for temporary relief. To do this, judges usually want to restore the parties to the same position they were in before the breakdown of the marriage.
So what does that mean for you? Think about the way things were before there was trouble in the marriage. The last time the two of you were getting along. What does that picture look like?
Temporary Orders on Financial Issues
Temporary orders on financial issues are important as a couple goes through the divorce process. Throughout your relationship, who paid for what? Who was responsible for what? Who took the kids to and from school and activities? Who paid for the children’s school and activity expenses? Who paid the mortgage, who paid what bills, who took care of this or that? Who carried the health insurance for the family?
You get the idea.
Some parties are able to communicate effectively to ensure their obligations are taken care of throughout the dissolution proceedings. While they may not want to continue paying bills the exact way they once did, they may be able to work out an agreement on their own to get them through the divorce process amicably.
This isn’t always the case.
When parties are unable to communicate effectively they tend to have a harder time seeing the big picture. Imagine how much time and money could be wasted arguing over something that was never an issue before.
For example, imagine two parties still in the same house. Historically, Spouse A paid the water bill and Spouse B paid the electric bill. Spouse B files for divorce and now Spouse A refuses to pay the water bill, even though they have decided to remain in the same house throughout the proceedings. Does it seem logical to fight over such small issues when there is a big picture to be looking at? How will assets and debts be divided? What schools will the children go to? What will a parenting time schedule look like? Those are just a few of the big issues that need to be decided before the divorce can be finalized.
Before you unilaterally decide to stop paying a bill, especially if you almost always paid that bill in the past, or before you unilaterally decide to take your spouse off your health insurance plan, first think about the big picture, mentioned-above, and then ask yourself a few questions.
Do you have a logical reason for the decision you are about to make?
Have you tried to resolve the issue with your spouse?
Will a Judge support your decision?
Temporary orders often tend to deal with issues regarding child support, maintenance, asset protection, possession of the marital residence and attorney’s fees but they can also deal with smaller issues.
Filing a Petition for Temporary Financial Relief and Preparing for Hearing
If a couple is unable to come to an agreement and need assistance from the court, they can file a petition requesting specific relief pursuant to Section 501 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. A lot of times these issues can be resolved between the parties and their attorneys but if a hearing is needed, then financial documents will need to be exchanged and presented to the Court before any decisions will be made. Both parties need to complete a financial disclosure. This document shows a party’s monthly income, taxes, living expenses, debts, assets, etc. The disclosure needs to be supported with documents, such as tax returns, recent pay stubs, and bank statements.
Temporary Orders and Issues Related to Children
Pursuant to Section 603.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/603.5), courts can enter temporary orders relating to the allocation of parental responsibilities, including parenting time and decision-making. The court’s number one concern is determining what is in a child’s best interests. The court will not enter a temporary order unless they believe it is in the best interests of the child. So even if the parties agree to a temporary order being entered, the court still must make sure it is in the child’s best interests. The court looks at numerous statutory factors when deciding what is in the child’s best interests. If the parties cannot agree on a temporary parenting time schedule or if they cannot agree on who makes major decisions relating to the child’s health, education, relegation, and extra-curricular activities, while the case is being decided then the court will schedule a hearing and the court will make the decision.
Temporary Orders Granting Temporary Relief
All orders are temporary until a final order or judgment is entered that resolves all pending issues. Temporary Orders can be modified during the proceedings but they end once a final judgment is entered with the Court. Temporary orders can help to bring some peace to the parties while they negotiate other terms of their divorce and can help to bring stability to children before a final parenting agreement is entered.
If you have questions about divorce-related financial issues, child custody and parenting matters, or the Illinois divorce process, we can help. Contact Anderson & Boback today to speak with our experienced divorce attorneys regarding temporary relief in divorce.