In Vermont, it is common for the Family Court to issue temporary orders in a divorce case. These orders are issued early in the process to establish ground rules for the parties while the process plays itself out. Most often, temporary orders are used for issues involving parental rights, child support, and spousal support.
When crafting a final order in a divorce case, it's imperative that temporary orders are not forgotten. The Vermont Supreme Court drove home this point in a recent decision. In Joseph v. Joseph, the court ruled that a final decree extinguishes the right to enforce an arrearage arising under a temporary order that has not been included in the final order or otherwise reduced to judgment.
In layman's terms, here is what they said: If you are owed money under a temporary order, you better be sure to have that addressed in your final order. If you fail to do so, and don't otherwise have a judgment for what you are still owed, you lose your ability to collect on the arrearage. It is important, therefore, to make sure your attorney knows if there are any arrearages under a temporary order before a final order is put in place.