What is a Request for Order Hearing in California?

Similar to Order to Show Cause or Notice of Motion

In California, one spouse may seek a divorce even if the other does not wish to end the marriage. Under the No-fault law, you only need to show “irreconcilable differences” which led to the breakdown of the marriage. One spouse cannot stop the other from seeking a divorce.

Once a spouse files a divorce petition, the other spouse, called the respondent, is served with the divorce petition.

Once the petition is served, the respondent has 30-days in which to file a response.

Request for Order Hearing

One of the spouses may request certain temporary orders. This is done at a Request for Hearing, or RFO.

An RFO is the family court equivalent of an Order to Show Cause or Notice of Motion that are used in many other areas of law. As it pertains to Family Law, the RFO is designed to quickly grant temporary orders that are enforceable until which time the case is either settled or is brought to trial.

Each of the parties are required to submit papers to the court outlining their side of the case and the orders they are requesting of the court. At the hearing, each party will have the opportunity to submit new information, give testimony, answer questions from the Judge, and argue their side of the case.

Temporary orders made during an RFO are not meant to be a final judgment or provide long-term, permanent orders. These orders are a stopgap measure that are immediately enforceable and expire when the case is either settled or goes to trial

Limited to Certain Types of Orders

A judge presiding over a Request for Order hearing can only grant certain types of orders. These orders may include:

  • Temporary Child Custody and Visitation or Parenting Time
  • Temporary Child Support
  • Temporary Spousal Support also called Alimony
  • Orders for payment of Attorney Fees
  • Property Restraint or Control – This is an order for a spouse to not sell marital property or to transfer control of a property from one spouse to another
  • Restraining Orders – In cases that involve domestic violence, a Judge may provide a restraining order for the protection of the at-risk spouse

A Request for Order Hearing is an effective tool to bring to bear especially when one spouse is refusing to cooperate. Once a person (known as the moving party whether they are the petitioner or the respondent) applies for a Request for Order and it is filed with the court, the responding party (the other party to the case, whether respondent or petitioner) is served with papers. If the RFO also included a request for temporary emergency orders pending the hearing, they become binding on the responding party once that party is served with the filed RFO. If the responding party fails to appear in court at the scheduled time, the Judge may issue the requested orders without the responding party being present.

Though temporary, orders made at the RFO hearing are legally binding and failure to comply with the orders may lead to a charge of contempt-of-court or other sanction remedies.


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