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Protecting the Interests of Clients & Families Throughout Orange & Seminole Counties

How Important is the Initial Hearing in a Florida Divorce?


In many court cases, initial hearings do not mean very much. They are just procedural hearings that have little bearing on the ultimate outcome of the case. But that’s not always true.

Divorce temporary hearings are a good example. At these preliminary hearings, Orange County family law judges make important decisions regarding things like parenting time and family support obligations, such as alimony payments. These decisions are difficult, but not impossible, to undo. So, the temporary orders often are a foundation for the final divorce order. Unless you have aggressive representation at this early stage from an experienced Maitland divorce attorney, you may be playing from behind for the rest of the contest.

Typically, the parties come up with the temporary orders themselves, and the judge approves their agreement. Therefore, your attorney also needs to be prepared to deal with a number of issues, so you have a strong voice during these pretrial negotiations.

Parenting Time Issues at the Temporary Hearing

Since divorce is such an unstable situation for the children, most family law judges like to make the environment as stable as possible. So, whatever informal arrangement is in place at the time of the temporary hearing will probably remain in place, even if it is not perfect.

If anything, the existing parenting time arrangement will probably become more entrenched. That could include specific pickup and dropoff times and locations. There may also be some provisions concerning the children’s school and physician. Otherwise, either parent might be tempted to manipulate the situation.

New evidence can change this temporary outcome. Usually, a social services investigation provides that evidence. In contested cases, most Orange County family law judges order these investigations. A county social worker looks at the facts of the case, interviews teachers and other witnesses, examines school records, conducts a home study, and investigates the situation in other ways. Based on that finding, the social worker makes a parenting time recommendation to the court. This recommendation is not binding, but most judges give it considerable weight.

If the social worker’s conclusion differs from the temporary orders, a motion to modify these orders is usually successful. At that point, inertia switches sides.

Financial Matters in a Maitland Divorce Temporary Hearing

In Florida, the parenting time division affects the child support obligation. That’s because Florida is an income share child support state. The child support obligation depends not only on the obligor’s income and the number of children in the family, but also things like the obligee’s income and the parenting time division.

So, if a Maitland family law attorney is able to change the parenting time arrangement, the child support obligation probably needs to change as well.

Other new evidence could affect the spousal support obligation. For example, many obligors try to hide income by voluntarily increasing wage withholding. They then claim that their income has dropped, and so their ability to pay is compromised. But there is usually some paperwork somewhere regarding this change. Alternatively, it’s also rather easy to compare withholding amounts on different pay stubs from different time periods.

Contact a Diligent Lawyer

Temporary child custody and family support orders often become permanent, so assertive representation from an experienced Maitland divorce attorney is essential. Contact The Troum Law Firm, P.A. for your confidential consultation.

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