Motion for Temporary Relief in Utah Divorce Matters

Divorced couple fighting for money

During your marriage, you and your spouse lived in the same household, had a system for paying your shared bills, and spent time with your children. You probably didn’t think about it much; it all unfolded naturally. And after your divorce is final, you will have a divorce decree that spells out the rights and obligations of each party: who is responsible for which expenses and debt; how support will be paid; when each of you will spend time with your children.

But what happens in between your decision to divorce and the official, legal end of your marriage? You and your spouse may not be on good terms, and you are probably in different households. Who pays the mortgage and utilities on your marital home? Who has the kids, and when? If the car you have been using is in your spouse’s name, will you be able to keep using it?

Filing for divorce disrupts the status quo. Especially when one spouse is a stay-at-home spouse or parent without their own income, it may not be possible to wait until the divorce is final to establish financial support. To bridge the uncertain gap between filing for a divorce and being granted one, you can file a Motion for Temporary Relief.

What is a Motion for Temporary Relief?

A Motion for Temporary Relief asks the court to make an order regarding child custody, parent time and support, alimony, property distribution, attorney fees and other matters during a Utah divorce (and other proceedings, such as parentage cases). With an Order on a Motion for a Temporary Order, one party to a family law matter does not need to depend on the willingness of the other party to do the right thing while the divorce is pending. An order may:

  • Establish or modify a parent time schedule, including specifying how and when drop-offs and pick-ups will occur;
  • Establish or modify child support;
  • Require a parent to provide health insurance for the children and pay their medical and dental expenses;
  • Dictate the means parents will and will not use to communicate with one another regarding the children;
  • Establish alimony;
  • Require one party to pay the other’s attorney fees;
  • Require a party to pay certain marital bills or debts;
  • Grant one party occupancy of the marital home;
  • Grant one party the use of certain marital property, like a vehicle;
  • Forbid either party from selling, transferring, or wasting marital assets while the divorce is pending.

Although the motion is for “temporary” relief, any relief ordered will continue until the divorce is final or a different order is entered in the case.

What is the Process Involved?

In order to seek temporary relief, you must have a pending lawsuit (such as a divorce). That means you must file a Motion for Temporary Relief either with your petition for divorce, or afterward. In Utah, there are other requirements before a Motion for Temporary Relief can be heard and granted. The court will not hear your motion in a divorce case until you have gone through divorce orientation and divorce education classes. (For a temporary separation case or a child custody case, you may need only to go through the divorce orientation class.)

Just because you ask for temporary relief doesn’t mean that you will automatically get what you ask for. You will probably need to provide supporting documentation for your requests. If your motion makes requests regarding child custody, you will need to present the court with a proposed parenting plan. If you want temporary financial help or child support, you will need to file Financial Declarations and/or a Child Support Worksheet.

If you file a Motion for Temporary Relief, your spouse must be served and gets to respond in writing to the motion. If they are willing to grant your requests, the two of you can sign a stipulation (agreement). If not, your spouse will need to file a Statement Opposing Motion for Temporary Relief (along with any necessary supporting documents). A hearing will be scheduled and the court commissioner or judge (depending on your judicial district) will consider the arguments and evidence.

Getting Help With a Motion for Temporary Relief

Because an order granting temporary relief remains in effect until a divorce decree or other order takes its place, it is important to make sure you ask for everything you need, and file all necessary documentation in support of your case. Many courts also continue the provisions of a temporary order in a final order, so asking for and getting the right relief is essential.

If you have never filed a motion before, that can be a daunting prospect. An experienced Utah divorce attorney has probably filed and argued hundreds of these motions, and that experience is valuable to you. It may be obvious to you that you need and deserve help; you need to make it obvious to the court. Your attorney will know what the court needs to see and hear to rule in your favor.

If you have questions about putting a temporary order in place while your divorce is pending, please contact our Utah attorneys at Barton Wood to schedule a consultation.