One of my more popular posts to help explain a relief or temporary relief hearing Updated for 2016.
A Temporary Relief Hearing is a hearing where you can request relief, or help from a Judge, while the case is still pending. It’s not a secret that in Minnesota family law cases, both Divorce & Paternity can take a very long time to wind their way through the court system. Instead of leaving everyone in limbo and letting them sort it out for themselves, there is the ability have a temporary relief hearing, which set’s the ground rules.
Not every divorce or child custody case in Minnesota needs a temporary relief hearing, if your case is going along well then no need! But if you hit the point where you can’t take it anymore, perhaps you’re not seeing the kids, bills are not being paid, destructive behavior is going on, anything like that and it may be time to file a motion for temporary relief.
What Is A Temporary Relief Hearing?
Often times in a divorce if the two parties cannot agree on what I like to call “the rules” of the divorce such as who pays which bills, when each parent has the kids, who lives in the house etc., etc., then your lawyer may suggest filing a “Motion For Temporary Relief” This is a legal document that is filed in court and is usually very specific in what is asked for.
I should note that while this article often talks about divorce, you can still seek a motion for temporary relief in a paternity hearing in order set a temporary visitation (technically called parenting time schedule).
There are some rules (the rules for Minnesota Family Court are here if you really want to read them) that must be followed however; in Minnesota a temporary relief hearings cannot be heard for at least 14 days after the motion is filed, but as a practical matter with the current backlog in Minnesota family courts it will take a month or even two before you will get into court. This means that for that a few months you will have to work with your soon to be ex to resolve the day to day issues. this is critical to keep in mind because you should be looking at the future and on the horizon to try and anticipate problems, that might arise instead of seeking help for a current problem
What Happens At A Temporary Relief Hearing?
The actual hearing itself is pretty simple. You, as a client, sit there and listen while the lawyers argue. There is rarely (and I mean RARELY) ever live testimony at a temporary relief hearing and everything is instead submitted through affidavits, which are sworn statements you and your lawyer draft. There will be no Perry Mason moment at your temporary relief hearing where someone will admit to a past wrong or breakdown and cry. It’s all done via written argument and then summarized by the lawyer at the hearing by writing a memorandum of law.
One thing you need to be aware of is that just because the hearing is done does not mean you will have an order from the judge that day. In Minnesota, Judges have 90 days to issue an order after the hearing. While not all judges take that long, many do, which means it can be several months until you actually get the “rules of the game” established.
Again, this is why proper planning is critical! If you know that you need some money, perhaps a balloon payment is coming due and you can’t pay it, you should talk to your lawyer, try and resolve it and then only if it all fails, should you file this motion. It just takes so long to get answer you need to be a little proactive.
What Does A Temporary Relief Hearing Cost?
Well these hearings cost money. There is a typical $100 motion filing fee you will pay and then there are the hours of work that go into it by you and your lawyer. The time it takes can run from a few hours to well over 20 for very complex cases. You can see that if possible, you should try your best to work it out with your soon to be ex so that you avoid the cost, emotional energy and time associated with a motion for temporary relief. The bottom line is that in most normal divorces a temporary relief hearing will run several thousand dollars.
Best advice is try to avoid one if possible, try and talk to your soon to be ex and hammer out the details. If you can avoid a Temporary Relief Hearing it is usually a good thing, but if you need money, assets or time with you children this is the route to go.