By Jedidiah McKeehan

If you have ever been involved in a legal proceeding, you may have gone in front of a judge at some point and heard the judge “order” that one or both of the parties to the lawsuit do something.  Those things that a judge says are what is called the court’s “order.”

However, it is absolutely imperative that what the judge says be typed up and then signed by the judge.  What the judge says does not become official until there is a written document signed by the judge instructing that something occur.

That may not make a ton of sense but let me give you an example.  Say there is an heir to an estate who needs to access a bank account of a deceased relative in order to distribute those assets and the judge has ruled that the heir is allowed to access those bank accounts.  Well if the heir just shows up to the bank and says, “Hey, the judge said I can access the bank accounts,” the bank is not going to let them access that money.  Instead, the bank may say, “That’s great, but unless you have a signed court order, we are not letting you access anything.”  That’s an example of why a written order signed by the judge is so important.

So how do these written court orders come in to existence?  If there are attorneys involved in the case, after a judge makes a ruling, one of the attorneys will go back to their office and write up an order, then they will send it to the opposing attorney to ensure that both attorneys agree that the order reflects what the judge actually said at court.  If both attorneys agree that the written order reflects what the judge said, then they will send in the order to the judge for him to sign.

Without a written order you cannot ever get divorced, get someone evicted from a rental house, or get a speeding ticket dismissed.  Written orders of some kind exist in every case and what is written in them is incredibly important.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.