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Status quo generally refers to the existing state of affairs or circumstances. A status quo order may be issued by a judge to prevent any of the parties involved in a dispute from taking any action until the matter can be resolved. It seeks to prevent harm or preserve the existing conditions, so that a party's position isn't prejudiced in the meantime until a resolution is reached.
For example, in the context of family law, a status quo order may be issued to prevent one parent from removing a child from the residence or out of the area without the other parent's consent, the other parent may seek a status quo order. These orders are designed to protect the child during custody dispute until the parties can mediate a parenting plan or until the court has enough evidence to make a decision on temporary custody.
In a further example, a status quo order issued in the context of labor law may be used to prevent employees from being fired or discriminated against after the filing of a grievance. The order may require the employer to discontinue negotiations and prevent the employer from changing wages, hours and all existing conditions of employment of the employees.