The divorce and separation process can take a long time. There may be multiple properties or assets to divide. There may also be children involved. This adds to the complexity of the separation because custody, visitation, and child support payments all need to be decided.

While in the process of the divorce, you can ask the court to set temporary orders. These orders set the rules that both spouses must follow until the divorce is finalized. It can be on major issues like child custody. It can also be for minor requests like the temporary use of a car or the temporary use of a property.

Order to Show Cause Basics

An order to show cause is also known as a Request for Order (RFO). It is a request from one party in a court proceeding. They ask the court clerk to set a hearing so a judge can hear certain arguments and make rulings on certain orders.

RFOs can be filed for numerous reasons. An RFO family law request generally focuses on temporary custody, visitation, or support. It may also request an order for a temporary restraining order or to show that one party is acting in contempt.

The RFO is delivered to the opposite party. It requests that they attend the hearing to dispute any facts or show cause as to why the relief requested by the other party should not be granted. They do not necessarily have to show up to court for the hearing. If you need or want them to show up, you may need to ask the court to grant a subpoena to make them appear.

Order to Show Cause in California

In California, the form that is used is FL-300. This form allows a party to ask the court to either adjust existing orders or to create new ones. Typically, in California, they are filed to change or create new orders regarding visitation, custody, property, finances, attorney’s fees, or child and spousal support.

The form can only be used in specific cases. California differs from other states in that the RFO document should not be submitted to ask for orders of contempt or domestic violence restraining orders. There are different and additional forms to request these types of orders from the court.

The FL-300 should also not be used to cancel or end child support payments or cancel a voluntary declaration of paternity. Additionally, if there is an agreement between the two parties that outlines the issue at hand, the request should not be used. The agreement should be altered rather than have a court order issued.

How to Request an Order to Show Cause in California

Several steps must be followed to request an order to show cause in California. These include:

  •  Fill out form FL-300. You may also need to fill out additional forms, depending on what type of order you are requesting from the court. You also want to submit any types of documentation that help support why you are requesting the order. These may consist of witness statements, medical records, or financial declarations.
  •  Have an expert or attorney review your documents. These orders can make significant changes to the lifestyles of you, your children, and your former spouse. You do not want to hand in the wrong form or not fill it out correctly.
  •  Make double copies of your forms and documents and submit them to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp one copy as “filed” and return it to you. The other set will be viewed by the judge and filed by the court.
  • Get your court date. As you file the documents, the clerk will also schedule your hearing and give you your court date. This date should be recorded on both your and the court’s copies.
  •  Serve papers on your former spouse. In California, the documents must be served to them at least 16 days before your court date. Certain circumstances determine whether you can serve them via mail or if it must be done in person by a third-party not associated with the case. Both your lawyer and the court clerk can walk you through this process. After the documents have been served, you need to file a proof of service with the court to show that it has been done.
  •  Attend your court date. The judge will hear your side. If your former spouse attends, they will also have a chance to dispute the order.
  •  The judge will make their decision and sign a court order. The judge can decide on that date or they may take a few days to go over the evidence before they declare their decision.