Temporary Hearing – What’s Next?

Previously I have written about what to expect at a temporary hearing in a divorce or custody case (here and here) and I recently received a question about what happens after the temporary hearing.  Let’s review just a bit:

At a temporary hearing, the judge is going to make a ruling that will govern the parties conduct throughout the remainder of the case.  In a typical divorce case the temporary issues typically are: child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, possession of certain assets like the house and cars, insurance coverage, service of debts, restraining orders and attorney fees.  In most cases, the first temporary hearing is the only temporary hearing and the last time you will be in front of a judge before the final hearing. Because of the importance of a temporary hearing, a lot of time and effort goes in the preparation for this hearing by you and your lawyer.

So after the hours of work, the gathering of affidavits, preparation of your arguments and your responses to the opposing side’s arguments – what’s next?

Well, things vary from case to case.  Often times, it is best to allow some cooling time for both parties to emotionally absorb what just happened.  Often, when we walk out of a temporary hearing, client’s have no idea what just happened or what the judge even said.  It may take a little while to get the order back from the judge and to allow time for counsel with your lawyer to find out where you are and put together a game plan for what happens next.

In a contested custody matter, a Guardian ad Litem will generally be appointed by the Court at the temporary hearing.  After the order has been signed the case documents will be sent by both lawyers to the Guardian and he/she will begin his/her investigation which will include interviews with parents, children, teachers, counselors, therapists, and others with relevant information.

Discovery is often begun at this point depending on the complexity of the issues involved in the case.  Discovery is the process where both sides exchange information about the case to the others (documents, witness lists, answer specific questions asked by the other side, etc.).  This process typically takes a couple of months.

From there, mediation may be required depending on where you live.  In the event you county doesn’t require mediation, an informal settlement conference or attempts to negotiate between the parties takes place and then a final hearing is requested.  If an agreement is worked out, a final hearing may be set in a matter of weeks.  If a contested trial is demanded it may take over a year for the trial to be heard by the family court.

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