Understanding How Court Orders Work in a Virginia Family Court Issue

Understanding How Court Orders Work in a Virginia Family Court Issue


When you’re in court on a family law issue, there may have already been court orders issued in your case. While you don’t need to understand all the legal jargon that comes up in your court case, court orders issued in your divorce or child custody proceeding can have a huge impact on your life, and it is important to understand what they are and how they’re created. Find out more about family court orders below.

Court orders are condensed versions of a judge’s decision, or of the agreement of the spouses or parents that have come before the court. Once a court order has been entered, the people named in the court order are legally required to abide by it. Those who disobey court orders can face fines or even jail time. We will discuss enforcement of court orders in a different post.

Court orders will cover a broad range of issues. The amount you’ve been ordered to pay in child support or alimony will be included in a court order. Your property settlement agreement, detailing how your marital property will be split between you and your spouse, will also be included in an order. After the judge rules on an issue, these orders serve as an official record of how the parties should act moving forward, and the details of the court’s decisions.

Divorce is not a speedy process in Virginia; spouses have to be separated for a minimum of six months, and often for a year, before they can file. As a result of this lag time, you may need the court’s help on legal issues before the divorce is final. For example, if your spouse is barring you from seeing your children, you may want the court to order your spouse to allow you visitation time. Likewise, if your spouse has stopped paying bills which are also in your name, you may need the judge to order your spouse to keep making payments while the divorce is ongoing. This sort of judicial action taken during the course of a divorce is known as “pendente lite” relief, or relief pending final resolution. Your attorney can file a motion for pendent lite relief, which is an expedited hearing process which offers temporary relief for a specific issue. The pendente lite order will no longer be in effect once a final order is issued.

Under ideal circumstances, you and your co-parent or former spouse will be able to negotiate the terms of your custody-sharing arrangement and the division of your marital property. In that case, your attorney will draft that agreement and have both parties sign it, and will submit that agreement to the court for approval. Assuming the court approves, that agreement will become an enforceable order in your case. If settlement isn’t possible, the judge will decide the issues after holding a trial or hearing, and will create his or her own order.

If you need aggressive, loyal, and knowledgeable legal help with your Virginia custody dispute or divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.