Saturday, April 15, 2006

Temporary Orders: Children Issues

Don't ever let anyone tell you that a temporary order is not a big deal. Temporary orders may have a profound impact on not only your life, but the life of your children. When the lives of your children are being affected, I don't know what could be a bigger deal.

The filing of a suit affecting the parent child relationship places a lot of power over chilren into the hands of the Court. The Court can make any temporary order it sees fit regarding children so long as the Court feels it is in the safety and welfare of the child. (TFC 105.001). The amounts to the sobering reality that once parents put themselves into the hands of the court, they are putting their children in the hands of the court. Even if neither one of the parents agree to certain provisions, the Judge can override the will of the parents and make nearly any binding order regarding the child so long as it determines it is for the child's best interst. This means that in the span of a short hearing, the Judge can make significant decisions that for a potentially long period of time will affect all aspects of a child's life. Kind of scary, hun?

The Court can order temporary restraining orders regarding the children without the need of hearing. TROs of this nature usually relate to enjoining either party from withdrawing the child from their school or daycare, and keeping either party from taking the child out of a geographic area.

After an evidentiary hearing, the Court has even more sweeping powers to determine the temporary situation for any child who is a subject of the divorce or suit affecting the parent child relationship. The court is empowered to determine the temporary conservatorship of the child (custody), temporary child support, orders restraining a party from determining the peace of the child, keeping someone from removing the child from a certain geographic area, and the payment of attorneys's fees. (TFC 105.001(a)).

As sweeping as these powers are, there are a few restrictions on the court. Unless there is a verified (sworn) pleading or affidavit by a party, the court cannot on its own, take possession of the child away from a person who has lawful custody, nor can the court exclude a parent from possession or having access to their child. (TFC 105.001(c)).

The normal requirement of an evidentiary hearing is done away with if the order is an emergency order sought after by a governement agency such as Child Protective Service. (TFC 105.001(h)).

This post was simply to give you an understanding of the impact of temporary orders on children issues. We'll discuss children issues in more more detail in latter postings.