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Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP Celebrating 150 years

Court Orders and Their Impact on Your Family Law Case


The most important results of court cases involving family law matters, such as divorces and custodial disputes, are often the orders issued by the court. It is important to understand, therefore, what court orders signify, and how they come to exist. Find out more about the process of creating court orders, below.

Court orders are, essentially, the judge’s decision on a matter, distilled into written instructions for the parties in a case. Court orders may require parties to act in a certain way, such as paying a given amount in child support each month, or to refrain from acting, such as barring a spouse from selling marital property while the divorce is ongoing. Court orders are legally binding and enforceable against the parties to the case at issue. If parties violate a court order, they can be subjected to court fines, payment of the opposing party’s attorneys’ fees, or even jail time. We will talk about enforcement of court orders in a future post.

Divorces can take months, if not years, to litigate fully, resulting in a long delay between the initial divorce filing and a final judgment on issues such as the division of marital property and the amount to be paid in spousal maintenance or child support. As a result, the court provides a way to receive support and prevent parties from doing harm in that interim period. This court-ordered interim form of relief—known as “pendente lite” relief—is temporary, lasting only through the course of the divorce action. The order granting pendente lite relief will expire when the court issues a final judgment in the case, and permanent orders go into effect. Your attorney can help you apply for pendente lite relief to obtain visitation time with your children, for example, or spousal maintenance payments.

Many times, spouses are able to agree to at least a portion of the division of their marital assets, or to most of a custody sharing agreement, without having to litigate those issues before a judge. In the case of a settlement agreement, the attorney will draft a summary of the decisions the spouses have reached between themselves. This agreement becomes legally binding and enforceable by the court once it is submitted to the judge presiding over your case, approved of by that judge, and entered as an order. In this way, spouses create some court orders. Otherwise, the judge will create orders on his or her own after an evidentiary hearing or trial on the issues. Both orders created as a result of a settlement and those created by a judge’s decision are final, and can only be changed via a post-divorce modification or appeal.

If you need legal help with a New York separation agreement, divorce, or custody dispute, contact the compassionate and thorough Hudson Valley family law attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a consultation on your claims, at 845-236-4411 (Marlboro), or 845-331-4100 (Kingston).

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