Spotlight on Rule 47M

by Annette Burns on March 5, 2006

Rule 47M.  Enforceability of Temporary Orders.

Rule 47M.  "Temporary orders signed by the court and filed by the clerk are enforceable as final orders during the pendency of the action. Temporary orders become ineffective and unenforceable  upon termination of an action either by dismissal or following entry of a final decree, judgment or order, unless that final decree, judgment or order provides otherwise. Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment are not subject to the provisions of this rule."

Most family law attorneys have operated with the knowledge that arrears on temporary orders must be incorporated into the final decree of dissolution, and if they are not, the temporary orders become unenforceable (and terminate) upon entry of the final decree.   Prior to adoption of this specific language in Rule 47M, however, concrete authority for this position was difficult to find (although the doctrines of collateral estoppel and possibly judicial estoppel could be argued).   

With the new language in Rule 47M, however, it is clear that temporary orders become unenforceable upon the entry of a final decree which does not explicitly incorporate those orders.

See also:  Thompson v. Thompson, 126 Ariz. 129, 613 P.2d 289 (1980), which cites Furgason v. Furgason, 1 Wash App. 859, 465 P.3d 187 (1970); and 24 Am Jur. 2d Divorce and Separation, Section 560, Annot. 154 A.L.R. 530.

Thompson states, in part:  "A debatable question is presented as to whether accrued arrearages under an order for temporary support are enforceable after entry of the final decree when the decree makes no reference to the delinquent payments."

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