A court order is an official proclamation by a judge (or panel of judges) that defines the legal relationships between the parties before the court and requires or authorises the carrying out of certain steps by one or more parties to a case. It can be a simple as setting a date for trial
or as complex as restrucuring contractual relationships by and between many corporations
in a multi-jurisdictional dispute (i.e. different states
or countries). It may be a final order (one that concludes the court action), or an interim order (one during the action). Most orders are written, and are signed by the judge. Some orders, however, are spoken orally by the judge in open court, and are only reduced to writing in the transcript
of the proceedings.
One kind of interim order is a temporary restraining order (TRO) to preserve the status quo. Such an order may later overturned or vacated during the litigation, or it may be a final order and judgment only subject to appeal.
In the area of domestic violence courts will routinely issue a temporary order of protection (TOP) (or temporary protective order) (TPO) to prevent any further violence or threat of violence. In family law temporary orders can also be called pendente lite relief and may include grants of temporary child custody, visitation, spousal support and maintenance.