In situations where the parents of a child cannot agree upon custody of the child, either parent can file a suit for custody. Custody cases can be drawn out and it may take the court a long time to determine what division of custody would be in the best interest of the child. As such, a temporary order defining custody of a child until the issues are ultimately resolved may be necessary.
If parents are able to come to an agreement regarding temporary custody, they should notify the court in writing of any agreed upon terms, and ask the court to issue an order approving the agreement. Custody disputes can often turn contentious, and obtaining a temporary custody order can protect either parent should his or her co-parent fail to adhere to the agreement, and can prevent one parent from unjustly relocating the child without consent.
If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding temporary custody, they can petition the court to set forth a temporary custody order. In any custody case a court’s foremost consideration is what is in the best interest of the child, and therefore, courts will usually issue temporary custody orders as such orders are beneficial for providing stability and promoting the well-being of the child.
Situations that Require a Temporary Custody Order
In addition to the interim between when a custody case is filed and a final custody order is issued, other scenarios may arise that necessitate a temporary custody order. If one parent is temporarily unable to care for a child due to circumstances such as illness or extended work obligations, either parent can request the court issue a temporary order to redefine each parent’s right to custody until both parents are again able to fulfill their custody obligations. Temporary orders may also be issued if one parent is in the military and is unable to exercise his or her right to custody due to deployment. In cases where the health or safety of a child is in danger, an immediate order may be necessary to protect the child. In such cases, a parent or guardian can request that a court issue an emergency temporary custody order allowing them to remove the child from any immediate harm.
In some cases, a parent who has sole custody of a child will recognize his or her current circumstances render him or her unable to care for a child, and will draft a temporary custody agreement in which they voluntarily grant temporary custody of the child to another individual. In drafting any temporary custody agreement it is important that the child’s parent define the duration of the agreement and set forth details regarding where the child will reside and who has a right to visitation with the child. The parent can then file the agreement with the court, asking the court to issue an order approving the agreement. The right of a parent to grant temporary custody of a child to another individual and the procedure for doing so varies by state, but the court’s main consideration in approving any agreement will be whether the agreement is in the child’s best interest.
What a Temporary Custody Order Can Dictate
Similar to a final custody order, a temporary custody order can define which parent will have physical or legal custody of a child and whether the parents will share joint custody or whether one parent will have sole custody, and can develop a schedule for when each parent will have custody of the child.