Temporary Orders are a common part of Family Court cases in South Carolina, and they can sometimes be confusing to parties who may not understand the difference between Temporary Orders and Final Orders issued at the conclusion of the case. Rather than permanently settling an issue, Temporary Orders are sometimes viewed as the “Band-Aids” of the legal world, as they are meant to quickly deal with issues as they arise while leaving them to be settled more thoughtfully and permanently down the road.
What is a Temporary Order?
Temporary Orders exist so that issues in a Family Court case can be dealt with quickly and without the time necessary for a full trial, as it is not unusual for it to take a year or more, especially in complex cases, between the time a case is filed to when it goes to a contested trial.
During that intervening time, issues are likely to arise that require a temporary solution, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, division of assets or debts, and other financial matters. Temporary Orders allow judges to address with these issues on an interim basis instead of forcing the litigants to wait months for a resolution. Once a Temporary Order is issued, the parties must abide by its terms until a Final Order is issued.
How do Temporary Orders work in Family Court?
Temporary Orders are decisions that are issued as the result of temporary hearings. In South Carolina, temporary hearings can occur on as little as one week's (five business days) notice, and even less if emergency circumstances warrant it. Evidence presented at temporary hearings is in the form of Affidavits, which are seldom subject to the kind of scrutiny that occurs in a final hearing. As a result, it is not uncommon for one party (and sometimes both of them) to be dissatisfied with the terms of Temporary Orders.
Are Temporary Orders ever made permanent?
It is important to understand that Temporary Orders are not necessarily indicative of how a court will ultimately decide an issue or a matter. Temporary Orders do not bind whatever judge ultimately decides the matter, because it's understood that they are based on much less information and without the context of a final hearing. As a result, the decision arrived at in the Temporary Order should, by both its name and nature, be temporary in nature and not dictate the result in a final hearing.