Temporary Orders are orders addressing immediate needs before a final order is entered in a case. They can provide stability and guidance while a legal matter is pending. In the context of family law cases, courts have broad discretion to enter temporary orders, which can address all of the issues that surround a pending divorce, like equitable distribution, spousal support, child support, child custody, and domestic violence protective orders. As suggested by their name, temporary orders are not permanent, and only last until they expire or are replaced by another temporary or final order.

There are different types of temporary orders, such as the ones that come after a court has heard evidence from both parties at a hearing during a case. Sometimes, there isn’t time to wait for a hearing for relief, and in those instances, an emergency temporary order is necessary. When the law allows it, courts can issue emergency temporary orders before the other party has been served and a full evidentiary hearing can be held on a matter. These are issued on an “ex parte” basis, which means that the judge hears an emergency request from one party either in person or through a written motion but did not yet hear from the other party or have a formal hearing.

Temporary Child Custody Orders

In a child custody case, North Carolina courts are authorized by statute to enter temporary orders for child support and child custody. For a parent with whom the children are living or who already has custody, a temporary order can be issued pending notice to the other parent if a court finds the circumstances are appropriate to do so.

If a parent is seeking to remove a child from a parent with whom the child is living (or already has custody), an ex parte/emergency custody order is available as an extreme measure. The statute states that:

“A temporary order for custody which changes the living arrangements of a child or changes custody shall not be entered ex parte and before service of process or notice, unless the court finds that the child is exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse or that there is a substantial risk that the child may be abducted or removed from the State of North Carolina to evade the jurisdiction of North Carolina courts.”

This is essentially a temporary removal of a child from the parent who has care or custody of the child based on the child’s exposure to a “substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse” or that the child may be abducted or removed from North Carolina by a parent who’s trying to avoid the North Carolina court system.

Emergency Domestic Violence Protection Order

In situations of domestic violence, temporary, one-year orders regarding children can be obtained in conjunction with a domestic violence protective order. A victim or parent of a victim who is still a minor with a personal relationship with the perpetrator can seek a domestic violence protective order. These orders can protect both adult or child victims of domestic violence. Notably, courts are required to consider the perpetrator’s acts of domestic violence when making custody and visitation decisions.

Some Temporary Orders Available Now

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina courts are under orders from the state’s Supreme Court to postpone or continue non-emergency hearings until the beginning of June, at earliest. This means that hearings for most family law proceedings are being delayed. An explicit exception allowed under the Supreme Court’s order is hearings on emergency domestic violence protection orders and emergency child custody orders. The attorneys at New Direction Family Law can help you explore your options.

New Direction Family Law

If you need an emergency order to protect yourself or your child, contact New Direction Family Law. Courts are still available for emergency orders and we can advise you on your rights. Our attorneys are smart, effective, and proven. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Let us help you. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us at our website.

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