Temporary child custody refers to the custody time when the parents’ divorce is finalizing. During the time of transition, the parents can get a temporary custody order that outlines the terms and conditions of custody until a hearing date is set. When the parents return to court for the hearing, the court will issue a permanent custody order. Here are three rules to follow during the temporary custody time.
1. Don’t wait to take action. As soon as you and the other parent separate, you need to act. Prepare for a temporary order that you want and try to get the custody and visitation that you want. For temporary custody, you and the other parent meet with a judge to discuss what is best for the child. Be prepared for this meeting. Have a parenting plan with you that outlines what you think is best for the child and practice how you will explain to the judge why your plan is in the child’s best interest.
Sometimes parents just give in to what the other parent wants because they think things can be changed later. This is a mistake. Just because it is called temporary custody doesn’t mean it won’t have lasting effects. Usually, when the parents show up for the hearing, the judge wants to know what the recent custody agreement has been. The court will usually try to stick with the current arrangement, because they want stability for the child.
2. Follow the order exactly. During temporary custody is not the time to be late for visitation, skip visits, or deny the other parent visits. All of this will impact your permanent order later on. Be exact in following the temporary custody order. If you are supposed to pick up your child at six, be there right at six. If you have the child for the weekend, be with the child. You don’t want the other parent to gather information about you that makes you look irresponsible.
3. Take notes. You want to document about visitation and other custody issues during this time. This will be important–especially if you and your former spouse disagree on key custody points. Keep track of when the other parent is late, misses visitation, or denies you visitation. Also take note of the things you do with the child and how you are taking care of the child. You may also want to notice things you’d like to change in the permanent custody agreement–if there are different visitation times that are better, or other parenting provisions to add.
If you follow these rules, you should be able to be prepared for temporary custody and then for your permanent custody order. Treat the temporary custody like a rehearsal for the custody agreement. Use the time to prepare yourself so you can end up with the custody agreement that you want.
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