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What Is an Interim Order?

Interim orders can be used to make temporary decisions about child custody, child support, and child visitation schedules.
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: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2014
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An interim order is a type of court-issued proclamation that is meant to be effective only until a court has had a chance to hear a complete case and enter a final decree or order. Until a final decree is issued in the case, the interim order remains fully enforceable and binding on the parties. Once the final decree has been entered, it supersedes the interim order. The terms of the final decree may be entirely different than those outlined in the interim order.

An interim order, also referred to as an interlocutory order, is usually handed down in a civil action. Generally, the party seeking the order must submit a formal request for the order from the court. Before issuing the order, the court frequently reviews limited evidence. It may also listen to oral arguments from the parties’ lawyers. An interim order can deal with procedural issues, such as requiring a party to produce a certain document by a specific date, or it can deal with substantive issues.

Interim orders are issued in a variety of cases, including creditor-debtor suits and contract disputes. They are also common in family law proceedings, where a judge may be required to make temporary decisions about issues such as child custody, child support, and child visitation schedules. A judge may also 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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In some situations, a type of interim court order, known as an injunction or restraining order, may be handed down for the purpose of prohibiting one of the parties from acting in a certain way while the case is being heard. For example, John Doe alleges that Suzy Smith committed patent infringement by manufacturing widgets, a product that John held a valid patent for. John may ask the court to issue an injunction prohibiting Suzy from making widgets while the case is being resolved.

A directive order, on the other hand, is an interim order that is typically issued for the purpose of temporarily requiring a party to perform in a certain way until a final verdict is rendered. In a divorce proceeding, for instance, a court may hand down a directive order that temporarily gives one parent custody of any minor children until a final custody decision is made. Courts usually issue injunctions and directive orders for the purpose of ensuring that one of the parties in a case does not suffer harm as a result of the other party’s actions while a case is pending.

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