At the beginning of a family court case, the court may enter a temporary order pursuant to Wis. Stats. Sec. 767.225. A temporary order governs the parties’ actions while the case is pending, until a final judgment or order is entered. The court may also enter a temporary order during post-judgment litigation. The parties can agree to the terms of a temporary order, or the court can enter a temporary order after a hearing. If one party requests a temporary order hearing, the other party must be given notice.
In a paternity case a temporary order can address custody, placement, and child support. In a divorce case a temporary order can be expanded to include spousal support (maintenance, alimony); temporary use of property, vehicles, and the marital residence; responsibility to maintain insurance and pay debts; restrictions on whether a parent can move a child a substantial distance away; and restrictions on the disposal of assets while the divorce is pending.
Temporary order hearings are usually held before a court commissioner, and are sometimes relatively informal. If a party is dissatisfied by an order entered by the commissioner, the party has a right to a new hearing, called a hearing de novo, before the judge. Most counties have a very short deadline for filing a request for a hearing de novo.
Particularly with regard to placement and custody issues, the temporary order can be a crucial stage of the litigation. Even though temporary orders are always subject to change, and even though temporary orders by definition only apply until the final hearing, in practice temporary orders establish a status quo that can be very difficult to change. Courts are reluctant to put children through multiple changes during or after the litigation. Parents should understand the factors the court must consider for custody and placement and prepare accordingly before a temporary order hearing.
Each of the family law litigation attorneys at Wessel, Lehker & Fumelle has handled hundreds of temporary order matters, both through negotiation and through litigation. We are familiar with the various court commissioners and experienced in presenting each case in the best light for a particular judge or commissioner.