When Massachusetts couples decide to file for divorce, it is only the first step in a process that may take many months or longer to finalize. There are many important matters that cannot be put on ice and need to be addressed when the parties separate. The family court may issue a temporary spousal support order, along with a temporary child support order to enable one parent to maintain proper care of the children, the household and other family matters during the time leading up to the final divorce decree.

Temporary support orders will only be valid until the court makes more permanent decisions in divorce proceedings. During the temporary support hearings, matters that are commonly addressed may include child custody, child support, and visitation arrangements. Health insurance and other medical expenses may be addressed, along with possession or sale of assets such as the home and vehicles. In circumstances where such action is required, a restraint order may be included to keep one spouse away from the other spouse and the children to ensure their safety.

Couples who find it difficult to come to mutual agreement about temporary spousal and child support may benefit from utilizing mediation services in conjunction with the services of an experienced family law attorney. Each party retains separate counsel. During the mediation process, your attorney will actively participate in negotiations to protect your interests. The attorney will also ensure the legality of any agreement to be presented to the family court in order to obtain formal temporary spousal and child support orders.

When Massachusetts couples manage to agree on all matters, the judge may be satisfied and authorize the proposal as temporary child and spousal support orders. Such orders will be normally effective until a divorce settlement is reached. The specifications of such temporary support orders may influence aspects of the divorce proceedings, hence the need for guidance by an experienced divorce attorney.

Source: FindLaw, “Family Court Decisions: Temporary Orders“, Jan. 9, 2015