The divorce process can take much longer than you might expect, even in the most amicable cases. Between the separation requirements for a no-fault divorce (which is a full year in North Carolina) and the length of time it can take to resolve divorce-related issues, the fact is that a divorce can take longer than you expect.
During this transition period, there can be a need for temporary orders. This includes temporary support orders as well as temporary custody orders. Below, we examine a few important things you should know about temporary orders and how they might affect your case.
- A temporary order for financial support to a spouse is post-separation support in North Carolina. If you feel you will be unable to support yourself after separation, then you can pursue post-separation support. However, just because a person receives post-separation support does not mean he or she will receive alimony.
- There is a clock ticking. Even though there is no firm deadline on a divorce, Family Court rules in Wake County specify that most temporary hearings are scheduled within 45 days after the complaint filing or 60 days after for post-separation support. If there are many matters scheduled on the date of your court date, it is possible that your could date could get continued and pushed out until a later date. These timelines can vary between counties, but generally speaking, you should not wait to file a motion for temporary orders if you have immediate needs that are not being met.
- It is possible to reach temporary agreements outside of court. If you and your soon-to-be ex can agree to a temporary plan for custody and support, then you can avoid the court processes and save time and money. However, you will want to take steps to protect yourself and the agreement. For instance, you should make sure it is in writing and you both sign it in front of a notary or have an attorney prepare it. Verbal agreements can quickly deteriorate over the course of time and turn an amicable situation into a messy and uncomfortable one.
Stipulations in temporary orders may or may not become permanent, but it is crucial that both parties take them seriously and comply with the agreements. Failure to do so could lead to serious penalties. It can also create conflict that affects mediation efforts and court decisions when it comes to establishing permanent orders.
This post can give readers a general sense of what to expect in terms of custody and support in the time between the filing and finalization of divorce. Specific questions related to seeking, enforcing or challenging temporary orders, and when a temporary order may become permanent by operation of law can be discussed with your attorney.