Requesting Orders in a Family Law Case

By May 20, 2020 May 26th, 2020 News

Once a divorce or family law case has been filed, it may be necessary for one party, or both, to seek initial temporary orders from the court. The vehicle for seeking relief from the court is called a Request for Order. A Request for Order is comprised of various family law forms and a written declaration, signed under penalty of perjury, by the requesting party. This declaration should set forth the orders requested and contain facts sufficient to obtain such relief. By filing a Request for Order, a party may seek relief in the form of temporary orders for child support, spousal support, child custody, visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, attorney’s fees, and limited orders regarding use and possession of property.

It is first essential to consider which types of relief are appropriate in the family law or divorce case. Does one party require child support or spousal support from the other? What have been the historical parental roles in the upbringing of any minor children, and are they consistent with the best interests of the children? Is one party at a financial disadvantage making it appropriate for the other party to contribute to the requesting party’s attorney’s fees? The filing party should consider whether the facts and law support the relief requested and endeavor to present those facts to the court clearly and efficiently. The assistance and counsel of a talented Orange County family law attorney can be indispensable in obtaining a successful outcome in a Request for Order, which can have a lasting impact on the trajectory of the case. Courts are extremely busy, and quality writing can make the court’s task of determining which relief to grant much easier.

Once the requesting party has filed a Request for Order with the court, and has served same on the opposing party, the served party may file a written response, opposing such relief and/or requesting additional relief on related grounds. The filing parent or spouse will then have the opportunity to file a reply declaration covering the issues addressed by the responding party.

If the Request for Order involves custody issues, the parties must first meet with court personnel to attempt to resolve any disagreements the parents may have related to child custody. In Orange County Superior Court, this custody mediation is confidential and will not be conveyed to the court, however, it is highly recommended that both parents conduct themselves in a cordial and cooperative manner. In the event that the issues relevant to the Request for Order are not settled, the matter will proceed to a hearing in family law court, where the court will often take testimony of parties and witnesses and hear argument from the parties’ family law attorneys.

The process of obtaining relief from the court by way of Request for Order can be time consuming and expensive. While settlement is not always possible, parties should attempt to limit the issues to be presented to the court by resolving non-disputed items in advance of the hearing. Obtaining orders from the court can take several weeks to months after the Request for Order is filed, so a party in need of relief should act promptly to prepare his or her request for relief.

Under certain circumstances, a party may seek immediate relief by filing an Emergency Request for Order, also know as an “ex parte” application for relief. Requests for financial relief, however, are not commonly considered urgent enough for an Emergency Request for Order. Ex parte applications are more often directed toward requests for domestic violence restraining orders in high-conflict family law cases or situations involving immediate risk of harm to a minor child.

A party served with a Request for Order must timely respond to the issues raised by the filing party or risk having such relief granted without his or her input. If you are considering filing a Request for Order, or have been served with one, you should immediately seek counsel of a reputable Orange County divorce lawyer.

by Douglas A. Hatherley, CFLS