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Temporary Orders and Permanent Orders

Temporary and permanent orders resemble each other, but they serve very different functions during a divorce. Understanding the distinction is critical to ensure the best outcome for you and your children, both in the short-term and long-term.

So, what are temporary orders, how are they different from permanent orders, and why do they matter? In this article, we’ll cover the basics of temporary orders, including why they’re important and how an attorney can help you when dealing with a temporary order.

Temporary Orders: The Basics

A divorce can take a long time, and there’s often a need for guidance and structure before the legal process wraps up. The function of temporary orders is to try to bring some stability to what could otherwise turn into a chaotic situation. Meanwhile, permanent orders are the final step in the process and provide the structure and framework for what will happen in the future.

Temporary orders come in several different varieties, which deal with different legal issues that accompany divorce. They include:

  • Temporary child custody and visitation

    A temporary child custody order sets the schedule for custody and visitation until the custody claim is finalized.

  • Temporary order for financial support (postseparation support)

    If you can’t support yourself financially after separation, you can work with an attorney to try and receive financial aid from your spouse on a temporary basis, which is called postseparation support. Note that like all temporary orders, postseparation support will only last for a set period of time.

  • Temporary order for child support

    The court can use a temporary order to get an amount of monthly child support in place before the final resolution of the child support claim.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: When and How Can I Modify Child Support in North Carolina?

  • Interim distribution of marital property

    Before a divorce finalizes, the spouses usually haven’t figured out key issues like who gets to live in the marital home or drive a vehicle, so courts can temporarily settle these issues with an order for an interim (temporary) distribution.

Just because temporary orders are temporary doesn’t mean they’re not binding. Temporary orders are court orders, and both parties in the divorce need to take them seriously and comply with the court’s instructions or face serious penalties.

Temporary orders can turn into permanent orders, but they don’t always. For example, some spouses receive postseparation support but don’t receive alimony after the divorce finalizes.

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Temporary Orders are Not Always Necessary in a Divorce Case

Not every divorce involves temporary orders. If one spouse wants temporary orders to resolve some of the post-separation issues, then they’ll need to request those orders from the court that’s handling the divorce and the related legal issues. Or, the parties can reach a temporary agreement on their own and turn it into a court order.

Most often, people will go to court and seek a temporary order when the parties can’t agree on one or more issues or when there are emergency issues. A temporary order can bring stability to a difficult situation. In some cases, temporary orders can stay in place for long periods.

If both spouses can agree on schedules and budgets, if there are no children involved, or if the couple is separating amicably, it’s possible to forgo temporary orders altogether. In that case, the parties are more likely to agree on each of the major divorce-related legal issues (child custody, spousal support, child support, and property division), and they may be able to proceed to trial without the need for a final order.

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Temporary Orders Can Influence Permanent Orders

Even though temporary orders don’t automatically translate to permanent orders, they set a precedent that the court may refer to when creating the final order.

Temporary orders in a divorce are especially useful when trying to anticipate final child support or alimony (spousal support) payments. Unless there’s a dramatic shift in income for one or both spouses, the amount of support will often remain the same between temporary and permanent orders.

So, if your case involves temporary orders for child support or spousal support, you may have a good idea of what to expect and how to deal with the issue at a permanent trial. If you find that temporary orders aren’t working for you and you need to request a change from the court, you should talk to your lawyer right away.

Keep in mind that just because temporary orders are temporary doesn’t mean they’re easy to change. Once temporary orders are in place, it often takes a dramatic change to justify an alteration. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced and dedicated attorney from the beginning of the divorce process so they can fight to get the best results for you and your children.

Need Help With Temporary Orders in North Carolina? Myers Law Firm Is Here to Help

At Myers Law Firm, we handle divorce cases with compassion, experience, and dedication to our clients’ best interests. If you need to request temporary orders or ask for a change to an existing order in or around Charlotte, North Carolina, contact us for help today.

To schedule your initial consultation with one of our attorneys, just call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us using our online contact form.


Definitions, Article 1, Chapter 50, N.C. General Statutes. § 50-16.1A. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/BySection/Chapter_50/GS_50-16.1A.pdf

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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