In the family court, a motion hearing, also called a temporary relief hearing, is a hearing before a judge where one or both parties seek relief. The term “relief” has a special legal meaning here: it means that one side or the other is asking the court to issue orders about how to conduct certain family functions for the immediate future.

These hearings are usually short, often only 15 minutes, and the relief issued is temporary in nature.

The court at a temporary hearing can address various questions, such as:

  • Which spouse/parent is to have custody of the children?
  • What sort of schedule for visitation with the minor children should be in place while the action is pending?
  • What will be each parent’s child support obligation?
  • Should one of the partners be obligated to pay spousal support to the other? If so, how much?
  • Who gets to control and use of marital property, such as houses and cars?

It’s important enough that we should stress this again: any decisions reached from the motion hearing will be temporary. The arrangements can change (and probably will change) in the final decision made by the court.

The idea is that before the court can make a final determination on such things as custody, visitation, support, and equitable division, among other things, there should be a merits hearing, where both folks can submit all the relevant and admissible evidence they reasonably choose, offer witnesses, and cross-examine the witnesses of the other party. These merit hearings or trials can last days. Before a lengthy trial can be scheduled, there is much work to be done, including the exchange of information and mandatory mediation.

But some relief cannot wait ten months for a trial, such as spousal or child support if one spouse leaves the home and is not voluntarily assisting. So that’s why you and your attorney will request such a hearing.

If you are faced with a matter in the family court and need to discuss with a family court lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. toll-free at 888.230.1841 to set up a consultation.


John Holland
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John Holland is a Spartanburg Family law attorney, practicing since 2012.