That's An Order: Understanding Divorce-Related Orders

You should never think of divorce as a single event. Instead, it's a series of events that culminate in a final decree. The more children, debt, property, and disagreements there are between you and your spouse, the longer the divorce process will be. If there is one aspect of divorce that defines the process, it orders. Orders are the result of a family law judge ruling on some important aspect of the separation and divorce process, so read on to learn more.

Some Common Divorce Orders to Expect

These orders come about two ways. The best case scenario is via mutual agreement by the couple. The more expensive and time-consuming way is to litigate the matter in court and have the judge decide. Regardless of how you get there, here are some common orders for most divorces:

  • Child support, both temporary during the separation and later after the divorce is final.
  • Child custody, again both temporary and final.
  • The parenting plan, which addresses custody and the creation of a visitation schedule.
  • Spouse support, which might be temporary and rehabilitative or permanent.
  • Disposition of the family home, such as who will reside there temporarily and who will be awarded the home as marital property.
  • Disposition of the marital debts.
  • Disposition of other marital property, such as vehicles, furniture, savings accounts, and the family pet.
  • Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO). This order provides one spouse with access to the other's retirement account without having to pay a penalty. The QDRO must be accomplished before the divorce is final.

Disobeying Divorce Orders and Intent

As you can tell, the number of issues and orders that can come with many divorces can be confusing. The issue of misinterpreting orders and accidentally violating one of them is ever-present. While, technically at least, the violation of a judge's order is grounds for contempt of court, the matter is usually resolved by viewing intent. If you did not intend to violate a provision, you will be warned to be more careful. If you or your spouse repeatedly go against the judge's orders, jail, fines, losing custody, and other punishment is possible. For example, if you had a flat tire while returning your child to the custodial parent one night and ended up being several hours late, you probably had no intent to violate the order that provided you have them home by 8pm.

To learn more about these orders and more, speak to your divorce attorney.