When parents of minor children separate or file for divorce, the court will usually hold a temporary child custody hearing to determine the custody and visitation schedule during the separation period. The temporary custody order usually stays in place until the divorce is finalized and a final custody order takes its place.
Even though this custody order is temporary, it will likely influence the court’s decision when determining a final custody decree. Therefore, it is important to know what to expect and how to win temporary child custody.
Reasons for a Temporary Child Custody Agreement
Parents of minor children residing together generally share mutual enjoyment and time with their children. However, when those parents decide to separate and live apart, they or the court must decide where the children will reside and how much time they will spend with each parent.
If the parents cannot agree, they will litigate the issue of child custody. Child custody litigation can be a lengthy process. Until a custody trial can be held, however, the court must issue a temporary custody order.
If the parties agree on custody and visitation, they may enter into a temporary custody agreement. In such a case, the parents may establish the actual custody and visitation schedule that they want and also agree upon child support.
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Occasionally, parents will agree that it is in their children’s best interest for another responsible adult to have temporary custody. This could happen for various reasons, including substance abuse issues, incarceration of either parent or other inability of the parents to provide proper care for their children.
Who Can Be a Guardian for Temporary Custody of Children?
Any responsible adult could be approved to act as a temporary guardian for minor children. The parents may agree on a temporary guardian for their minor children, or the court may decide who should act in that capacity. Some of the most common choices for a guardian for temporary custody of children include:
- The grandparents of the children;
- The aunts and uncles of the children;
- An adult sibling of the children;
- Godparents of the children; and
- Close friends of the parents.
What Should Be Included in a Temporary Child Custody Agreement?
If the parents can agree on a temporary child custody arrangement, they should be precise and include everything that would be covered if the court rendered the temporary order. Some of the most important provisions that should be included in a temporary child custody agreement include:
- The period that the agreement covers—the specific beginning and ending dates;
- The child’s place of residence;
- Whether either parent will pay child support, the amount, and on what dates it will be paid;
- A specific and detailed visitation schedule for each parent; and
- Anything else that is important to the parents and the child.
If the parents cannot reach a temporary custody agreement, the court will set a hearing to determine temporary custody. In this case, you may need to know how to win a temporary custody hearing.
Why Is It Important to Attend a Temporary Custody Hearing?
If the court sets a temporary custody hearing impacting your child, it is most important that you attend. Further, how you show up is vital. You will want the court to see you in the best possible light. This is especially true if the other parent is seeking temporary sole custody of your child.
You will need to know what to expect at a temporary custody hearing. It may be helpful to seek the advice of experienced family law attorneys to learn answers to the question of how you get temporary custody.
Remember, you need to be completely honest and forthcoming with your attorney. The lawyer cannot properly represent you if he or she doesn’t know all information that could influence the court’s decision. Attorney client relationships provide complete confidentiality, so tell your attorney everything that could, negatively or positively, affect your case.
The following are several helpful steps to take prior to attending the temporary custody hearing:
- Write out a detailed history of your relationship with the other parent and with your child.
- Make a detailed list of reasons why you believe you should be granted temporary custody, as well as any reasons why you believe the other parent should not be awarded custody.
- Make a proposed schedule of visitation for your child with the other parent.
- If you are employed or attending school, have a childcare plan in place.
- Gather evidence, such as photographs, cards, and notes, to support your position.
- Speak to any witnesses who you will ask to testify on your behalf.
- Seek the advice of experienced family law attorneys.
What Issues Are Addressed in a Temporary Child Custody Hearing?
Each custody case is unique; however, a temporary child custody court hearing is likely to address the following issues:
- Temporary child custody and visitation, including which parent has primary custody;
- Temporary child support;
- Temporary use of the family residence;
- Temporary spousal support; and
- Any other issues unique to the child and parents.
While the above are issues commonly addressed in child custody hearings, an attorney can best advise you of any additional issues that may be addressed. You might consider seeking an attorney who specializes in family law.
How to Get Temporary Custody of a Child in Court
When the court determines temporary child custody, it must make a decision based on what is in the child’s best interest. In determining what is best for the child’s well being, the court will consider many factors, including:
- The child’s relationship with each parent, extended family, and other important figures in the child’s life;
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the former spouse and facilitate visitation with the other parent;
- Each parent’s ability to nurture and care for the child;
- Any issues of substance abuse, domestic abuse, or criminal history of either parent;
- Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment; and
- The general character of each parent.
Can I Lose Temporary Guardianship?
Generally, temporary guardianships are temporary orders that last for the agreed-upon length of time in a temporary custody agreement or until a final divorce decree is rendered by the court. However, there are situations in which a person could lose temporary guardianship. If you have a significant change in your circumstances or the court otherwise determines that it would be in the best interest of the child to terminate your guardianship, it will do so. Some reasons that a judge may end your temporary guardianship include the following:
- You withhold visitation from the other parent;
- You refuse to cooperate with the other parent;
- You begin making bad decisions that could put the child at risk of harm;
- The child is not thriving in your care;
- You have disparaged the other parent in the child’s presence;
- You have been neglectful or abusive to the child; and
- Any other reason showing that a change of guardianship would be in the child’s best interest.
If you are wondering how to win temporary child custody, your first step should be to contact a law firm experienced in family law. If you and the other parent can reach a temporary custody agreement, be sure that the agreement spells out every detail of the custody, visitation, and support of your child.
If you and the other parent cannot agree, the court will hold a temporary custody hearing and decide what is in the best interest of the child. In some cases, the judge could award temporary sole custody of a child to one parent or another responsible adult if it is in the child’s best interest. However, in most cases, the court will try to maximize meaningful and ongoing contact with each parent.
In determining what is in the child’s best interest, the court will consider numerous factors. You should always attend any temporary custody hearing that affects your child. Consider seeking the advice and representation of an experienced family law attorney to represent you in your temporary custody hearing.