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Can I Get Temporary Orders During a Pending Divorce?


When spouses decide to end their marriage, each side begins to deliberate on what they want in the divorce to support their needs and those of their children. They focus on the next chapter of their life and what it will look like.

The future-oriented position is appropriate and necessary. There also needs to be a strategy for what happens between marriage and divorce. The divorce process in Rhode Island can take months and sometimes longer. An uncontested divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences requires a 90-day waiting period. High-net-worth divorces are particularly complex and can take more than a year (or more) to be finalized.

Temporary orders that cover support, custody, and possession of certain assets might be necessary. Either spouse has an equal right to file a motion for temporary orders. Any temporary order granted will not necessarily be repeated in the final divorce decree.

Temporary Order for Child Custody

When a spouse files for divorce, one spouse commonly moves out of the home they had shared as a married couple. If children are involved, temporary child custody orders benefit the child and the parents. Similar to final custody orders, an interim arrangement must consider the best interests of the child and create as little disruption as possible.

Temporary child custody must allow for reasonable visitation for the non-custodial parent unless visitation is shown to be detrimental to the youth.

Temporary Order for Child Support

Along with child custody comes the need for child support orders. Child support is based on the incomes of both parents and the number of children and their needs. Rhode Island uses an income shares model where each parent is responsible for providing their proportionate share. A judge has the discretion to deviate from the guidelines when it is in the child’s best interests and is fair to the parents.

Temporary Order for Spousal Support

Alimony is never a certainty in any divorce, and the same is true for spousal support while the divorce is in process. The court must be convinced of two things: there is a true need for one spouse, and the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Temporary spousal support is usually granted at the beginning of the divorce proceedings and continues until the divorce is finalized. Temporary spousal support does not guarantee alimony will be awarded in the divorce.

Temporary Order for Possession of the Marital Home

This temporary order is often tied to the custody of the children. The parent with temporary custody of the children typically remains in the marital home. The order can give the custodial parent exclusive possession of the marital home while the divorce is in process.

Other property in the marital estate, such as a car, can also be provisionally granted to a particular spouse.

Temporary Order for Household Expenses

Rent, utilities, credit cards, signature loans, and other bills and debts still need to be paid while a couple sorts through all the issues of their divorce. The judge can assign temporary responsibility for household and other expenses to either spouse.

Automatic Orders in Every Divorce

Rhode Island statute provides for automatic orders in every divorce, divorce from bed and board, legal separation, annulment, custody, or visitation case. These orders are in effect for the plaintiff upon signing the complaint. The orders apply to the defendant upon service of the complaint.

The automatic orders include the following:

  • Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of, without the consent of the other party in writing, or without an order of the court, any property, individually or jointly held by the parties, except in the usual course of business or for customary and usual household expenses or for reasonable attorneys’ fees in connection with this action.
  • Neither party shall incur any unreasonable debts including borrowing against any credit line secured by the family residence, further encumbrance of any assets, or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards.
  • Neither party shall permanently remove any minor children from Rhode Island without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court.
  • Neither party shall remove the other party or the children of the marriage from any medical, hospital, or dental insurance coverage. Each party shall maintain the existing medical, hospital, and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect.
  • Neither party shall change the beneficiaries of any existing life insurance policies, and each party shall maintain the existing life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies in full force and effect.
  • If the parties are living together on the date of service of these orders, neither party may deny the other party use of the current primary residence of the parties without a court order. This provision shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory court order.
  • If the parties share children, a party vacating the family residence shall notify the other party or the other party’s attorney, in writing, at least 48 hours before moving out. That person must provide a new address where they can receive communication. This provision shall not apply if there is a prior, contradictory court order.
  • If the parents of the children live apart during the dissolution proceeding, they shall assist their children in having contact with both parties, which is consistent with the habits of the family, personally, by telephone, and in writing unless there is a prior court order.

Trusted Legal Advice for All Stages of a Divorce

Our legal team at McIntyre Tate LLP provides thorough, informed, and pragmatic guidance for all issues related to divorce. We are here for you throughout the process: from the time you begin to consider divorce, to filing for divorce, through divorce negotiations, and – if needed – a divorce trial.

In every step, you will receive transparent communication, an understanding of your rights, and thoughtful strategies to best support your goals.

Learn more about our divorce services by scheduling a consultation. Contact us online or call (401) 351-7700.