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Are temporary child support orders enforceable?

December 31, 2016 Blog

Child support is often a contentious subject in divorce proceedings and many parents cannot agree on terms. During a divorce, there are two primary options: the parents can reach an agreement about how custody, support, and expenses will be handled, or they can ask a judge to decide. A temporary child support order is often issued before a permanent order can be made.

What is a Temporary Child Support Order?
A divorce can be a drawn-out process that takes months or even years. Despite this, many decisions may be needed quickly from a judge in terms of who will get the children and who will stay in the home. When one spouse needs money right away for the children, a temporary child support order can be issued.

One spouse may request a temporary child support order from the judge, even if a formal divorce action is not yet filed. These requests are put on a fast track through the court with a hearing scheduled within days or weeks.

Spouses have the right to ask a court to issue many types of temporary orders including establishing child custody and visitation, restraining one spouse from making contact, providing child support or alimony, preventing either spouse from selling assets, or giving possession of a car or house to one spouse.

How to Request a Temporary Order
The spouse who needs money to support the children may request a temporary order by filing paperwork with the court. This usually requires submitting:

  • Application for order to show cause (OSC) and an Order to Show Cause. An OSC is a simple form that defines what is being requested; in this case, a temporary child support order.
  • Supporting declaration. This written statement explains facts to justify the issuance of the temporary order.
  • Proposed temporary order granting the relief requested. This order is signed by a judge if the request is granted.
  • Proof of service. This proves to the court that documents have been delivered to the other spouse. Paperwork must be served legally to the other spouse for a temporary support order.

After the paperwork is filed, a hearing will take place so the judge may review the details of the request, consider the facts, question both parties, and consider the financial situation of the spouse taking care of the children.

How a Temporary Support Order is Determined
Just as with a permanent child support order, many factors are used to consider the support amount. The calculation is designed to best serve the child, not either parent. A court may consider many factors such as:

  • Each parent’s income and personal assets
  • Expenses for each child
  • Which parent has custody
  • The number of children
  • The ages of the children

As these support orders are temporary, they are designed to cover the child’s immediate needs. This can include expenses like housing, clothing, medical care, food, and education. Other expenses are typically considered for the final support order.

A temporary child support order allows each parent to plan for the future based on the payments awarded. One potential downside to a temporary support order is the amount may not change during the final judgment. It is possible for a court to consider the temporary order amount as adequate and not recalculate the support amount for the child.

Is a Temporary Support Order Enforceable?
A temporary child support order is an order from the court; it is just as valid as the permanent child support order. Temporary support orders are valid and enforceable until the court issues a final support order.



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