Request for Orders Family Law/Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels
What are RFO’s?
If you’re involved in a family law case, chances are, you’ve heard the term “RFO” thrown around. “RFO” stands for “request for orders”.
What’s the Purpose of an RFO?
RFO’s are exactly the way they sound- Requests for Orders from the Judge on your case.
It is usually your first court date where you see the Judge, and they make orders in your case.
What can I ask for in an RFO?
RFO’s are used to seek orders relating to temporary issues like child custody, child support, spousal support, fees, forensics.
They are NOT for property issues, which are issues for trial.
Why are they “temporary” orders?
They’re called temporary orders because they are eventually replaced by the Judgment. However, don’t mistake “temporary” for “short amount of time”, because divorces have a tendency to last a long time. (Read Why Is My Divorce Taking So Long?)
If you don’t have any subsequent orders replacing your “temporary” order, the temporary will last until there is another order.
In some cases, temporary orders (aka “pendente lite” – which is Latin for pending litigation) end up being the permanent orders incorporated into the Judgment. This is especially true in custody cases, because “status quo” is favored, and the longer a “temporary order” stays in place, the firmer a “status quo” arrangement becomes. It is essential to understand the important role of an RFO.
Examples of Issues Resolved by RFO’s
Who is paying the mortgage?
Who pays child support?
How much child support?
Where do the children go?
What is the parenting plan?
Who is contributing to attorneys’ fees?
Filing Request for Orders (RFO)
You get a court date by filing an RFO. This stands for “Requests for Orders”, and is meant to resolve issues of Child Custody/Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Attorneys’ Fees, etc., pending the
issuance of a Judgment. The Request for Orders hearing is set 3-4 months out (courts are very busy).
Currently, an RFO filing fee is $90. Filing an RFO does not mean you are trigger-happy, and immediately racing to court to win. Sometimes they are filed to preserve the starting date of an order.
Remember: At all stages of divorce, you always have the option to reach an agreement with the other side. You are always in control of whether you want to go to court or not. Usually, if you reach an agreement, you can file it the Court. It is not unusual for parties to reach an agreement after an RFO has been filed, before the heraing date.
For the most part, the Judge will rubberstamp your agreement, even commend you for settling.
There are certain exceptions, of course. In California, you can never totally take away the Court’s power to rule on child support.
When Should I file an RFO?
It is always a good idea to immediately file an RFO when issues of custody/visitation and support arise.
Again, it takes six months or longer to obtain a Judgment. In the meantime, temporary orders must be in place for peace of mind.
Of course, if both parties have been separated for a long period of time, and are self-supporting, and have no children, there may not be any issues to be resolved pending the Judgment. In this case, I would opt to forgo the RFO.