Motions in family court
Bringing a motion
The court process can take time, so you may want to ask a judge for a temporary decision on some issues before a final outcome is reached in your case. This is called bringing a motion. For example, you might ask the judge for a temporary order that says where the children will live and how much time they will spend with each parent.
Temporary court orders stay in place until the court makes either:
- a different temporary order at another step in your case that changes the previous temporary order
- a final order later in your case
Any party in a case may bring a motion unless a judge has ordered otherwise. If you are the person bringing a motion, you are called the moving party. The other person is called the responding party.
Types of family motions
There are generally two types of family motions, including a:
- procedural, uncomplicated, or unopposed motion (for example, asking the court for permission to file a document after a deadline has passed or asking the court to make an order that the other party agrees with or will not oppose)
- motion for a temporary order (for example, asking the court to order the other party to pay temporary child support or to set up a temporary parenting schedule)
See Rule 14 of the Family Law Rules for more information on motions.
Timing of motions
You can generally make a procedural, uncomplicated, or unopposed motion at any time.
In most cases, you must attend at least one case conference to discuss the main issues in your case before you are allowed to bring a motion for a temporary order. There are very limited exceptions to bringing a motion before a case conference, including:
- urgency (for example, where you or your child’s safety is at immediate risk)
- hardship (for example, where a support order is necessary to provide basic living conditions such as shelter, clothing and food for your children and you cannot wait until a conference)
You should think carefully before you bring a motion for a temporary order before a conference. If the judge decides it was not necessary to do so, the judge may order you to pay the other party’s legal costs related to your motion.