A temporary orders hearing may not sound like a big deal based on its name alone. After all, "temporary" means not permanent and therefore unnecessary, right? If you can change something later on, why get upset about the results of something not set in stone?
The reality is that a temporary orders hearing is, in fact, a mini-trial. You and your opposing party are putting forth your cases to compete for a judge's decision that will favor one of you. Much of what you hear in your temporary orders hearing will be repeated in a trial should your case make it to that point.
Another virtual reality is that your temporary orders hearing results will set the tone for the remainder of the case. Once a judge issues temporary orders, it will take something reasonably dramatic to change the judge's mind in a trial setting. For example, suppose you have won temporary primary conservatorship of your child during a divorce. In that case, you would likely be named the permanent primary conservator in a trial. This is because judges don't like to upset the status quo so long as that status quo is working well for you and your family.
So, suffice it to say that a temporary orders hearing is crucial to the remainder of your family law case and your life in general. The file you're With that said- if you attend one of these hearings and the results don't go the way you had hoped for, what are your options to have a "do-over"? Can you appeal the results of a temporary orders hearing? Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will touch on that very subject.
A lawyer's favorite answer to any question asked of them.
If you have ever hired an attorney and then asked them a tricky question, they likely smiled at you sheepishly before answering, "It depends." So much of the law depends on relatively minor facts and circumstances that can dramatically impact your case overall. Then, let's chat about what factors are relevant to your ability to appeal the decision made in your temporary orders hearing.
You will need to consult with your attorney to find out if the county where your hearing was held will allow for an appeal to be heard of the temporary orders that were just issued. In many counties in Texas, temporary orders hearings are exclusively heard before an associate family court judge. The district court judge selects associate judges to work in their court. District Court judges are elected by the people that live in your county.
How quickly must you file your request to appeal the decisions in a temporary order hearing?
An associate court judge's decision can often be appealed and heard again by the district court judge. The devil in these details is that you have a relatively limited amount of time to file your request for a new hearing. The law in Texas is that you must file an appeal with the court clerk within three days of your having learned of the judge's decisions in the temporary orders hearing. Many cases have an associate judge issue temporary orders orally after the hearing. Other patients see the judge issue their written findings by filing them. Either way, you have three days to request that these orders be set aside.
Assuming that you properly file your request for a new temporary order hearing and it is done on time, the district court judge can allow you an opportunity to have a hearing on why a new temporary orders hearing should be granted. Meanwhile, the interim orders set forth by the associate judge will remain in effect until the district court judge overturns them with their new decisions.
Appealing the results of your temporary orders hearing to an appellate court judge
There is only one judge per court in some counties in Texas (usually less-populated counties). Without the benefit of having another person seek a different outcome, the above examples of appealing an associate judge's decisions to the district court judge are not possible.
To appeal the results of a temporary order hearing in a situation where there is only one family court judge available at the trial level, you would need to appeal the district court judge's decision to the appellate level. This is called a writ of mandamus.
Not only are there relatively few family law attorneys with experience drafting and arguing a mandamus request, but the odds of getting one approved are slim. In all actuality, you will be arguing that the district court judge's decision goes against the totality of the evidence presented in your temporary orders hearing and that there is no basis for the decision as a result.
Keep in mind that if you are successful in your mandamus request, you may still have to go before that judge for a trial in your family law case. It's not as if you will never run across this judge again. Many people choose not to file mandamus requests for this reason alone, as the judge will likely remember you as the person who filed a mandamus against them.
Requesting a modification of temporary orders rather than an appeal of them
You have another option at your disposal if you do not like how your temporary orders hearing ended. However, it may not help you achieve the exact results you want.
If an appeal is not on the cards, the option available to you is to file for a modification of the temporary orders. To do so, there is a burden placed on you to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that has occurred about you, your opposing party, or one of the children involved in your case. This is difficult enough to do about final orders in a family law case, so attempting to modify temporary orders can often prove to be even more difficult.
Requesting a social study in your family law case
A social study can be requested if your issue centers around child custody. Social research involves a social worker coming into your home and that of your opposing party to evaluate the homes where your child could live. You, your opposing party, your child, and any persons living in your homes will likely be interviewed as well. After the social study, a recommendation will be made to the judge where your child should reside permanently.
Going to trial as a last resort
If all else fails and you cannot reach a settlement with your opposing party, you can proceed to a trial regarding any outstanding issue in your case. The same judge that likely heard your temporary orders hearing would probably be back to listen to the arguments and evidence presented in your trial.
The outcome of your trial is challenging to anticipate only because judges' decisions can vary depending on the parties and their circumstances. I always tell clients that it is a roll of the dice trial. Still, if you believe that you will not achieve the outcome you desire in mediation and are willing to take that risk, an attempt is not always a bad option if you seek to change the results reached in a temporary order hearing.
Questions about temporary orders hearings? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about approaching a temporary orders hearing or any other subject in family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. Our attorneys and staff take great pride in representing our clients, and we would be honored to discuss how we could do the same for you and your family as well.