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What Are Interim Orders?

A judge may use an interim order to make short-term decisions about spousal support, debt payments, and use of a family home or car.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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In many instances, when a court issues an order it is not only binding, it is also final. Interim orders, however, are temporary decrees. Generally, interim orders are issued and designed to remain in effect until another event occurs, such as a hearing or the commencement of a trial.

A court may find it necessary to impose orders upon one or more parties to a case before it hears the case. Child abuse cases often provide good examples of such instances. In these cases, courts may deem it necessary to remove children from the custody of their parents.

There are some instances, however, in which a person may apply for an interim order. For example in the United Kingdom (UK), a debtor may file for an interim order when he is trying to process an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA), which allows him to propose a plan for repayment of his debt. Filing for an interim order in such a case protects the debtor from legal actions that his creditors may try to take.

To obtain an interim order, there is generally a procedure that must be followed. These procedures will likely vary from one jurisdiction to another and depend upon the type of order that is being sought. Interim orders can be used for several purposes. In some cases, they are used to require a person to do something. In other instances, they may be used to prohibit a person from doing something.

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Although interim orders are usually preliminary actions, they are often based on some degree of facts or evidence. Each party to a case may be given an opportunity to argue why a court should or should not issue such orders. Evidence may be presented to support these arguments. In some instances, judges may base their decisions for interim orders on materials found in case files.

Although these orders are temporary, those who are bound by them must be careful. Generally, interim orders are enforceable until they are officially withdrawn, expire, or are replaced by final orders. If a final order is issued in a case where there was an interim order, the final order is superior, whether or not this is stated.

Just as a person is usually given the opportunity to appeal final orders, he may also have the opportunity to appeal interim orders. If a party bound by such orders decides to do so, there is generally a limited amount of time. In order for such efforts to be successful, an individual will likely have to convince the court that the orders were in some way unjustified, improper, or prejudiced.

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