Call Now

Call Now

Call Now

Blog

What To Expect In A Preliminary Hearing In A Divorce Case And Why Are They So Important?

What To Expect In A Preliminary Hearing In A Divorce Case And Why Are They So Important?

When most couples marry, they slowly and unwittingly merge their financial, business, and personal lives together. They may have a car loan on a car purchased for the husband, but as time goes on, it makes sense for the wife to drive it, such as if one car dies and the husband gets a company car. A joint account may be equally contributed to or each party’s paycheck goes into it and is used to pay for all bills. Parties, in fact, have rituals for who pays what and how the household is handled that are unsaid and unwritten but each knows what to do. However, when a divorce action is filed, it is often the case that these matters cannot be untangled quickly, but the parties cannot agree on certain necessary things while the divorce pends, such as who stays in the martial residence, and without agreement, the parties are forced to ask the court to have a preliminary hearing to make a temporary order. There is an entire section of the Dissolution Act covering provisional orders in dissolution and legal separation matters that can address any legal need you may have.1 This blog explores the common topics the parties ask the court to address on a temporary basis, how courts handle certain matters, and what you need to know to avoid falling into preliminary hearing pitfalls.

After a divorce is filed, nothing changes. Each party is still entitled to the same access to the martial home and children. Unfortunately, the emotion of a divorce sometimes causes parties to act in ways that force a preliminary hearing. The most common examples are, when someone cleans out the bank accounts, takes the children and separates them from the other parent, and/or changes the locks on the house. Because this is an untenable situation, one party (usually the one locked out, who has not seen the kids, or has had all of his/her access to cash removed) asks for a preliminary hearing to address this situation.2 That said, although a provisional order is without prejudice to the rights of the parties or child as adjudicated at the final hearing as set forth by statute,3 all seasoned family law attorneys know that a court does not like to upset the stability of children and whoever obtains possession of the marital residence and/or physical custody of the children, in particular, is likely to maintain this and be awarded same at the final hearing. Thus, significant preparation for a preliminary hearing is key and sets the tempo for the entire case.

During the preliminary hearing, the court typically orders a certain party to have possession of a certain car, no matter how titled. So if you have a specific need for a specific car, you have to put it into evidence. The issues of how bills are divided is equally important. Both sides need to carefully consider what they ask for at a preliminary. It costs more to run two households and it may be that the parties cannot afford to live apart and not go deeper into debt as the proceedings go on. In this case, the ultimate amount left for the court to divide at a final hearing is less. This means that if a party has a relative, parent, or friend who will let him or her live with them temporarily during the pendency, it may be wise to consider this. This does not even have to be you the reader, but your spouse. Certainly, you can subpoena witnesses to testify they will provide free temporary shelter to your spouse. So even if your spouse is not reasonable, a wise litigant will present to the court what makes sense for both parties with documents and testimony to back it up. Ordinarily, the unreasonable spouse will then not be able to explain how the parties will afford to live apart under their proposal. This leaves the court the tools it needs to decide how to fairly and reasonably make preliminary orders, even if the other party will not be reasonable. Simple budgets in spreadsheets and gross weekly income can vividly make the point. Courts want parties to be able to have a life after a divorce and will work hard to craft fair order---if you present the evidence.

Ultimately, only a small percentage of cases have enough acrimony to have a preliminary hearing as they are expensive, emotional, and, well, only temporary and the order ends when the divorce decree is entered. Most of the time, the parties/attorneys work out preliminary matters between them and submit an agreement to the court to sign, saving a lot of time, grief and money while avoiding the risks of a preliminary hearing, as even the best judges and lawyers sometimes do not have their best day. However, whatever path your divorce turns, you should understand that the ruling coming from a preliminary hearing has a significant bearing on the way your case may finally be decided. Do you need a preliminary hearing? What evidence do you need to properly prepare for it? This is where a seasoned family law attorney can be an invaluable asset. The take-away from this blog is a preliminary hearing is a “big deal” and can set the stage for your case for the rest of the divorce proceeding. Take a preliminary hearing seriously. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle domestic cases throughout Indiana. This blog about preliminary hearings is written for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.


  1. Indiana Code 31-15-4-1 et seq.
  2. Indiana Code 31-14-2-1: In an action for dissolution of marriage, either party may file a motion for . . temporary maintenance, counseling, possession of property et cetera.
  3. Indiana Code 31-15-4-3.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

We Listen & Care

Proven & experienced attorneys successfully advocating & resolving complex cases for over 25 years

Quick Contact

Need to talk now? Fill out the quick form below and we will contact you directly.
Blog Categories

Get In Touch

We're available to answer your questions 24/7.

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you shortly.

Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

Call Now

Copyright © 2021 Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. This Site does not provide legal advice; please review the disclaimer for other limitations. Privacy Policy

Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Ciyou & Dixon will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. In addition, this practice focus is augmented by the firm's other three core areas, namely appellate advocacy, civil practice, and firearms law. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counselSM.

Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. of Indianapolis, Indiana, offers legal services for Indianapolis, Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Avon, Anderson, Danville, Greenwood, Brownsburg, Geist, Fortville, McCordsville, Muncie, Greenfield, Westfield, Fort Wayne, Fishers, Bloomington, Lafayette, Marion County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Allen County, Delaware County, Morgan County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Vigo County, Johnson County, Hancock County, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana.