What's the Difference Between Temporary and Final Support Orders

Legal proceedings for divorce can take a long time, depending on the circumstances specific to the case at hand. Divorce proceedings can last anywhere between a few months to several years. During that time, it may be necessary to address urgent issues regarding the financial needs and responsibilities of the parties.

Basic principles of justice require courts to conduct a thorough hearing of the parties’ arguments and careful consideration of their evidence before issuing orders that would impact their legal rights and financial obligations. However, the court can grant temporary orders regarding essential legal issues, such as child and spousal support, that are effective as the parties present their cases in court.

Temporary Child Support

Parents have a duty to provide adequate financial support to cover a minor child’s basic needs. The duty to pay child support arises from the parent-child relationship. A parent’s responsibility extends to paying for a child’s food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education.

In cases involving divorcing or separated unmarried parents, a court may require the parents to pay any amount necessary to cover a child’s needs pending the resolution of their legal dispute through a temporary court order. Temporary child support orders are designed to help maintain the status quo of the family, while legal proceedings are conducted.

Temporary child support orders can be modified or rescinded at any time. However, any court orders modifying or terminating a temporary child support order cannot retroactively change any amounts that have accrued before filing the modification request.

Final or “Permanent” Child Support

Upon conclusion of the trial, a court will issue final orders regarding child support that remain in effect beyond the scope of the initial divorce proceedings. Final child support orders are what requires divorced or separated parents to continue paying up until the child turns 18.

Ordinarily, the terms of a child support order depend on the parent’s rights regarding custody. Legally, both parents owe a duty to financially support a child. However, when one parent has primary custody of the child, they will be spending money on groceries, rent, medical care, and educational expenses.

However, the child does not directly benefit from payments that a noncustodial parent makes to cover their own living expenses. As a result, the noncustodial parent must pay their share of support to supplement what the custodial parent is paying to care for their child on a regular basis.

It’s possible that the terms of a final custody order will differ from any temporary custody orders that were in effect during trial. Furthermore, evidence relevant to the determination of final child support often comes out after the court issues temporary orders. A final order for child support may include amounts that cover any significant disparities between interim and final support orders.

Temporary Spousal Support

Courts may issue temporary orders requiring one spouse to provide financial assistance to the other spouse while divorce litigation proceeds through court. Like temporary child support, temporary orders for spousal support are meant to continue the status quo throughout divorce proceedings.

Temporary spousal support orders are most appropriate in cases where one spouse was the “bread-winner,” and the other spouse hasn’t worked for a long time. Without temporary spousal support, there would be a substantial disparity in financial resources between the parties. This could prejudice the interests of the less financially resourceful spouse throughout the litigation, as they would be saddled with the challenge of securing gainful employment while simultaneously litigating their divorce in court.

Temporary spousal support orders can also be modified or revoked at any time, except with regard to amounts already accrued.

Final Spousal Support

At the conclusion of divorce proceedings, the court will issue its final judgment, including final spousal support orders that will be in effect after the divorce. The primary difference between temporary and final spousal support orders involves the purpose for which the court issues them. Unlike tempory orders for spousal support, final orders are concerned with helping the financially disadvantaged spouse transition from married life to financial independence.

In some cases, where one spouse cannot reasonably be expected to find a job or other substitute source of income, the court will order permanent spousal support. An award of permanent spousal support is appropriate in marriages that lasted for at least ten years, and is meant to allow the supported spouse to cover the expenses associated with the standard of living the parties achieved during their marriage.

Benefit from the Professional Legal Team at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich

For more information about your rights concerning domestic support upon divorce, please consult one of our licensed attorneys from Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. We are here to provide helpful legal advice to guide you through the difficulties of litigating a divorce or other family law dispute in California.

Call Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich at (951) 687-6003 or visit our website and complete an online request form to schedule a consultation about your case today.


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