How can I get help with finances or custody during my divorce?
In Alabama, you can file a motion for temporary relief, also called pendente lite relief. This type of motion asks the court to make temporary orders to get you through the time when your divorce is pending. The court can make temporary orders for child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), possession of the family home or restraining orders.
When can I file a motion for temporary relief?
You can file for temporary relief when you file for divorce or any time after you’ve filed for divorce. In Alabama, the first spouse to file for divorce files a Complaint for Divorce. The other spouse responds with an Answer to Complaint for Divorce. You can file your motion for temporary relief with either of these documents or any time after you file it.
How will the judge decide whether or not to grant my request?
The judge will look at the circumstances of your situation and make a judgment call about whether you need temporary relief. For spousal support, the court can look to “the condition in life of the parties.” In other words, the court can take into account the life to which you have become accustomed , and it may award support to keep you in that way of life. However, it will not award support that your spouse cannot afford to pay. For child support and custody, the court will consider the best interests of the children.
How long will the temporary order last?
The court can order temporary orders that last for the duration of your divorce process. When the divorce is final, permanent orders go into effect. If your circumstances change during the course of your divorce, you can file a motion requesting that the judge modify your temporary orders.
If the court grants temporary relief, will it grant similar permanent relief when my divorce is final?
Not necessarily. During the course of the divorce, the court may acquire information that would cause it to make different final orders. For final orders, it will also take into consideration that the parties will be moving on in their lives. For example, while a stay-at-home mom who has never worked may get enough temporary spousal support to stay in her current lifestyle during the divorce, after a trial the court could decide that she should get rehabilitative support to help her become self-supporting and may taper her spousal support accordingly. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce without a trial, you can essentially decide the terms of your permanent support and child custody issues, without the court input. (Although it will have to approve your agreement.)
How do temporary restraining orders work?
Under certain circumstances, the court may enter orders restraining a party from various activities pending the final resolution of the divorce. The court usually provides temporary restraining orders in cases of violence or abuse, but the court may also use them to preserve the property during the divorce process.
Do I need to hire a lawyer to file a motion for a temporary order?
In almost all cases, it is wise to hire a lawyer to file a motion for a temporary order. The judge’s decision will depend how you present your circumstances. A good family law lawyer knows what the court wants to hear and will be able to present your situation in the most advantageous way. If you cannot afford a lawyer, try getting help from an Alabama organization that provides legal information and services to low-income people, such as Legal Services Alabama.
To learn more about divorce issues in Alabama, go to the Alabama Divorce and Family Law page of Divorcenet.com.