What is a Status Quo Order?

It’s not uncommon for a divorce to feel like a huge upheaval of your life—suddenly, your living arrangements, your comfortable routine and the people you’re accustomed to seeing every day may change. As an adult, you’re adept to handle this change and adapt, but if you’re a minor undefinedchild with no control of the matter, such a sudden shift can cause severe emotional distress with long-term negative implications. For this reason, Oregon law allows temporary protective orders of restraint to be filed during divorce cases, otherwise known as a “status quo” order.

A common misconception about a “temporary protective order of restraint” is that, based on the name, it must be similar to a Restraining Order—that intimidating order that’s filed when someone’s violated a person’s space or rights, otherwise known as a Family Abuse Prevention Order (FAPA). While they may sound similar, they’re two completely different orders, and they are not interrelated.

According to Wikipedia, the term status quo means the “existing state of affairs, particularly with regards to social or political issues.” Applied to an Oregon divorce, a status quo order is designed to maintain the existing residence and daily schedule of your children, as well as their usual contact and standard time with each parent. Essentially, a status quo order is like a safety bubble placed around your children’s schedules and day-to-day routines, so that amidst the chaos of the divorce, they can maintain a sense of normalcy and remain safe while permanent custody arrangements are being determined. Once issued, this decree will stay in place until a parenting plan is decided upon or temporary custody orders are issued by the court. Practically, a status quo prevents each parent from doing the following:

  • Changing the child’s usual place of residence
  • Interfering with the child’s present placement and daily schedule
  • Hiding or secreting the child from the other party
  • Interfering with the other party’s usual contact and parenting time with the child
  • Leaving the state with the child without the written permission of the other parent or the court
  • In any manner disturbing the child’s current schedule and daily routine until custody or parenting time has been determined

But wait, what if I want to object to a status quo order?

It’s possible that, if a spouse does file a status quo order, they’ll request a certain schedule that leans far to their advantage and isn’t an accurate portrayal of the usual parenting time your children may be accustomed to. A status quo order will look back and take into consideration the parenting time, custody and school location your children enjoyed for the three months prior to the request. So, even if your ex did have more parenting time during the two weeks prior to the order being issued, and that time is what they’re staking their claims on, the entire three-month period will be taken into account.

To answer the question: yes, you’re absolutely able to object to your ex’s claim. You’ll have to provide your own version of the schedule your children practiced for those three months, and physical evidence is key—any documents you have that can validate your counter-claim will be hugely helpful in proving your case and revealing the truth. Thus, if you’re entering into a divorce and think it’s possible your ex may file a status quo, think ahead and start saving any and all documents, receipts, pictures and other physical proof to be safe.

As noted, a status quo order should be used as a tool to protect your children and ensure their emotional and physical safety above all else. It is not a means of promoting selfish agendas, or getting revenge on your spouse. It’s possible that abuse of these orders and false claims can negatively impact your final parenting plan down the line, so check your motives before filing. A status quo can be complicated, and due to the immediacy of it, it’s important you’re educated on the matter and go about it correctly. Having an attorney to help guide you through the process and advocate for both your parental rights as well as the well-being of your children is an invaluable resource. Call Landerholm Family Law today at (888) 981-9511 to schedule your case evaluation today.

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