Temporary Relief During the Process of Divorce

Temporary Relief During the Process of Divorce
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Last updated: July 2006

Temporary Relief

Any person in a divorce or custody case can request temporary relief while the case is pending. Orders for temporary relief give certain rights and privileges to one of the parties before the case is finished. The temporary order is replaced by the final and permanent order at the end of the case. An order for temporary relief may include the following:

  • Temporary custody and/or visitation
  • Temporary child support
  • Temporary maintenance (also known as spousal support)
  • Temporary exclusive possession of the marital residence
  • Temporary division of bills such as a mortgage
  • A temporary restraining order keeping the other party from selling or getting rid of property
  • A temporary restraining order keeping the other party from removing a child from the jurisdiction of the court
  • Interim attorney’s fees
  • Any other appropriate temporary relief

Temporary Custody and Visitation

The court may award temporary custody and visitation, including temporary joint custody. It does this by using the same factors it would to a request for permanent custody and visitation. The court will look at the best interests of the child or children to decide who should have custody. When one party or both parties receive temporary custody or visitation, that decision will continue until the court issues another order or until a date set for the order to end. Temporary custody also ends when the court issues a final order in the case.

An award of temporary custody does not keep either party from trying to get permanent custody of the child. However, the courts like to maintain consistency for a child or children. The courts will often give permanent custody and visitation in the same way as a temporary custody and visitation order.

Either party may try to change a temporary custody and visitation order at any time. Changing a temporary custody order works differently than changing a permanent custody order. When someone tries to change a permanent custody order, he must show either serious endangerment (the child's health or safety is in danger if the custody arrangement continues in the same way as before) or a substantial change in circumstances. Neither of those things needs to be shown to change a temporary custody order.

Temporary Child Support and Maintenance

Like permanent child support, temporary child support in Illinois is based on guidelines in the law. Temporary maintenance is based on the same factors as other maintenance. Both temporary child support and temporary maintenance may be recalculated or changed as part of a final judgment in the case.

Temporary Restraining Orders

A temporary restraining order or TRO (also called a preliminary injunction) may be used to stop a party from removing a child from the jurisdiction of the court. This means that the court can stop someone from taking a child to a different city or state, where the court would no longer have the power to decide the case. 

A TRO may also be used to grant exclusive possession of the marital residence to one party while the case is pending and bar the other party from entering the residence. This means that the court can say which party gets to live in the married couple's house or apartment.

A TRO may also be used to keep a party from selling or getting rid of marital property, or to force a party to pay certain marital debts (like a mortgage or credit card bill) while the case is pending. If there is recent domestic abuse, the abused party may also get a restraining order and other relief under the terms of an Order of Protection. Orders of Protection prevent the abusive party from having contact with the person they abused. Click the title below for more information about getting an Order of Protection:

How Do I Protect Myself and My Children From Domestic Abuse?

Interim Attorney’s Fees

Under recent amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the courts now can force one party or attorney to pay the other party's attorney’s fees while the case is still pending. These are called interim attorney’s fees.

Procedures for Temporary Relief

A request for temporary relief may be filed anytime after a divorce, custody, or child support case has been filed. The request for temporary relief should be in writing in the form of a motion or petition. Depending on how things are done in the county where the case is pending, the motion must be set for hearing before the correct judge and the other side must be given notice of the motion and hearing.

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