What Is a Divorce Court Order?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2020
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In many legal systems, there is a court specifically designated to hear family law cases, such as a divorce. In others, a general civil court hears divorce cases. In either case, the court will often have cause to issue a divorce court order during the pendency of the case or even after the case has been concluded. Any order issued by a judge regarding a divorce — before or after the divorce has been finalized — is considered a divorce court order.

Potentially the first divorce court order a plaintiff will receive is an order allowing the plaintiff to file in forma pauperis. Filing a divorce requires the payment of a filing fee in most courts; however, not everyone who seeks a divorce can afford to pay the filing fee. As a result, in many jurisdictions, the plaintiff may petition the court to proceed in forma pauperis — or as a poor person. If the judge approves the request, then he or she will enter a divorce court order to that affect and the filing fee will be waived.


Another divorce court order that is frequently issued is a preliminary or temporary custody and child support order. When there are children involved in a divorce proceeding, the court will need to make a preliminary or temporary determination regarding custody, visitation, and child support that will last until the divorce is finalized. This order will decide who will have primary physical custody of the children during the pendency of the divorce, establish a visitation schedule, and order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. In addition, the order may address who will have temporary custody of the primary marital residence.

An order compelling discovery is another divorce court order that may be issued by the judge. Both parties to a divorce generally have a legal right to information regarding the other party, such as financial records and results of home studies done for the purpose of determining custody of minor children. If one party is not discovering that information to the other, then the judge may issue an order compelling the discovery.

A divorce court order may also be issued after the divorce has been finalized. The terms of a final divorce decree are considered orders of the court and both parties are legally obligated to abide by the terms found within the decree. If one party is not complying with the orders, then the court may order that party to appear for a contempt of court hearing.


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