The Role of Temporary Orders to Preserve Property in Divorce Cases

Temporary Injunctions in General

In a divorce case, the parties can request the court to issue temporary orders and injunctions for the purpose of preserving the property and rights of the parties.

Under Texas Family Code § 6.502, courts are authorized the issue temporary orders regarding the following:

  • A comprehensive inventory and valuation of the parties’ assets and liabilities under oath
  • Prohibiting the parties from spending funds in excess of what the court finds to be reasonable living expenses
  • Payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs
  • Appointment of a receiver for the purposes of protecting marital property
  • Awarding exclusive occupancy of the family residence pending divorce proceedings
  • Granting exclusive control of certain property

Temporary Spousal Support

Among the orders a court may temporarily issue pending the divorce is a temporary order that provides for the financial support of one of the spouses. A temporary order for spousal support is designed to preserve the economic status quo between the parties during litigation of their divorce until a final agreement is reached or the court renders a final divorce decree. Such an order helps prevent situations where one party suffers financial hardship as a result of separating from their spouse.

Interim Attorney’s Fees

In divorce cases where there is a discrepancy in financial resources between the parties that hinders a party’s ability to pay attorney’s fees, the court may issue a temporary order requiring the more financially resourceful party to cover the reasonable attorney’s fees of their spouse during the pendency of the divorce.

Temporary orders for attorney’s fees pending a divorce—also known as interim attorney’s fees—are meant to level the playing field where one party enjoys significantly more financial benefits than the other party.

A temporary order for interim attorney’s fees is limited to estimates of a party’s legal fees. To obtain interim attorney’s fees, the requesting party must provide sufficient evidence demonstrating a need for financial assistance and the other party’s financial ability to provide such assistance. However, an award for interim attorney’s fees may not put the paying party at risk of suffering financial hardship.

Importantly, a temporary order for interim attorney’s fees is enforceable by contempt of court. When the payment of a spouse’s attorney’s fees qualifies as spousal support, a party’s failure to comply with the temporary order may be grounds for imposing sanctions for contempt of court.

Temporary Ex Parte Orders

Ordinarily, both parties must be present at a hearing before the court will issue an order than affects their legal rights. However, the court can issue certain temporary orders without a party being present at a hearing in certain situations. Such orders are known as ex parte temporary orders, a Latin term that roughly translates to without a party.

Generally, a court will issue a temporary ex parte order in situations where immediate harm may result in the time it would normally take to hear both parties’ sides of the issue. Texas Family Code § 6.501 authorizes courts to forgo the usual due process requirement of providing notice of a hearing to preserve a party’s property and protect their welfare by issuing temporary orders that prohibit conduct such as:

  • Contact and communications between the parties
  • The destruction of property
  • Accessing safe deposit boxes under the control of either party
  • Changing beneficiary designations under a life insurance policy covering the life of either party or their children
  • Canceling a credit card or changing its credit limits
  • Deleting a social media profile or posted content
  • Terminating service for basic utilities such as water, electricity, gas, phone, or internet access

Contact Coker, Robb & Cannon for Dependable Legal Services

Family law litigation can involve various legal procedures that are difficult for many people to understand. Without such procedures, the fairness of a family law proceeding may be at risk. To make sure you benefit from legal proceedings, such as those concerning temporary orders to preserve the status quo and protect the parties from undue hardship, you should consult an experienced legal professional from Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers today.

To arrange an initial consultation about your case with a member of our distinguished legal team, please call Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers at (940) 293-2313 or contact us online today.

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