Any Order that a court issues during the pendency of a Divorce or Paternity case, that is not a final Order of all issues, is a provisional Order. These can also be called “interlocutory”, “preliminary”, or “temporary” Orders.
A Provisional Order is meant to maintain the status quo as close to possible. Any time a divorce action begins, there are inherently a lot of life changes, especially if someone has moved out of the shared house, and there are children involved. This applies to Paternity cases as well, as oftentimes when the parties come to court is because their former romantic relationship has ended and they have to determine how to co-parent together.
In Divorce cases, the Dissolution Act specifically allows for such preliminary orders when a divorce case is filed. The court may issue an order for temporary spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony for spousal support), child custody and parenting time, and possession of property while the case is pending before the Court1. This is because cases, especially contested cases, take time to prepare and litigants often need at least some temporary resolution to matters in dispute immediately.
Under the Paternity Act, there is no such statute on point allowing for a paternity court to make temporary orders. However, the Indiana Court of Appeals has held that the purpose underlying temporary orders in divorce cases are also present in circumstances involving paternity cases. Specifically child custody, parenting time, and child support issues2. The Court of Appeals held that:
Because these issues may reasonably require multiple hearings to resolve, entering a provisional order in a paternity proceeding concerning parenting time and custody is quite appropriate while relevant issues are developed for resolution in a final hearing, if necessary, and a final order.
Provisional Orders, and requests for Preliminary Hearings, can be very useful in both divorce and paternity cases, where there is a lot of unknown, and the case could take several months to finally adjudicate, especially if a contested trial is needed. Provisional Orders can ensure that both parents have frequent and regular contact with the child during the case.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding what provisional orders are, and how and when they are used in divorce and paternity cases. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.