Temporary Custody of a Child: Reasons, How to Choose & FAQ's

When to Consider a Temporary Custody Arrangement for Your Child

A couple who has a child (or more), and are planning to separate, may not be able to decide on the custody of the child immediately. Such a situation calls for temporary custody of the child. The temporary custody of a child is needed when parents are unable to decide who the child should reside with until family disputes are settled. It is a temporary measure until final child custody is agreed upon. Parents have two options when filing for temporary custody- obtaining temporary custody without going to court or obtain a temporary child custody order via the family court. Read on to learn more about this arrangement!

What Is a Temporary Custody?

Temporary custody of a child is the decision of the court to award physical custody of a minor child to a parent, pending the hearing of the decision on the final custody. The decision of the temporary custody will depend on the primary interests of the child, and work towards maintaining the stability and continuity of the child’s day-to-day life ( schooling, family ties, activities).

Temporary custody is the legal decision by the court to award the legal and physical custody of a minor child to an adult who may or may not be their legal parent. “The best interest of the child” is always kept in mind while awarding custody. The court will consider the following factors when deciding the arrangements for the temporary custody:

  • Kind of emotional ties with the child
  • Financial stability and emotional ability of the person to care for the child
  • Safety of the premises where the child will reside
  • Stability and continuity for the child
  • Mental health and physical health of both parents
  • History of parents when caring for the child
  • Any prior history of mental, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Any recommendation for a court-appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad item
  • Desires, wishes of children if they are over 11 years old

Temporary custody of a child

Reasons to File for Temporary Custody

There are many reasons why a parent would consider emergency temporary custody to a person or another couple. A few common reasons for temporary custodianship include:

1. Divorce or Separation

Whilst waiting for final custody to be issued, parents may decide on a temporary custody arrangement for their child.

2. Shortage of Funds or Financial Resources

Any parent who cannot afford to care for his or her children may be granted temporary guardianship to a trusted friend or family member.

3. Competing Responsibilities

Parents with an unusual work schedule like travel commitments, work-related issues, or additional educational responsibilities could seek help from family or friends to take care of their child for a temporary period.

4. Domestic Violence

If there is a possibility of the child being threatened with any kind of abuse, the court could issue an order of temporary custody arrangement to protect the child.

5.Illness or Hospitalization

Any parent who is incapacitated temporarily could seek help from a friend, relative, or family to care for their children for a short period of time.

Parents who receive the temporary custody of a child during the divorce proceedings are likely to be granted permanent custody eventually. The court will definitely consider different options and also take into account the preference of the child. The court usually tries to avoid changing the custody of the child.

How to Choose a Custodian for Temporary Custody of a Child

When deciding your child’s temporary guardian, there are a few criteria that parents need to check:

1. Age and needs of kids

Younger children need more care and attention. However, adolescents and teenagers face their own set of challenges when it comes to the separation of parents. It is important to spend some time and understand your child’s personality before choosing the guardian. The guardian should be able to address their specific needs.

2. Experience of the person to whom custody is being awarded

There’s no compulsion with regards to giving custody to a parent. It could be a relative or a close friend one trusts. A guardian who has kids of their own would help but what is more important is the willingness of the guardian to be able to look after your kid.

3. Living arrangements

It is fine to sleep on the couch over the weekend, but it is definitely not a permanent arrangement. If the temporary custody is for a long period of time, then you would want to choose someone who has a decent place to accommodate your child.

Family Law

Who Can Be Considered Appropriate for Your Child’s Temporary Custody?

In theory, anyone can be a temporary custodian. It is, however, important to choose a custodian who could provide constant support and care to your child. The child must be able to have a strong relationship with the guardian, and so must the parents. The following could be considered as parents as appropriate temporary custodians.

  • Grandparents
  • Godparents
  • Extended family members
  • Friends

How to Write a Temporary Custody Agreement

A temporary child custody agreement can be drafted if parents decide to grant temporary custody of their child to another person. There are a few key details that a temporary child custody agreement must consist of:

  • Length of time until when the agreement will be in effect (when the agreement will start and end).
  • Details of where the child will reside.
  • Details of the rights of parents to visit the child.

In addition to these details, the temporary custody for child agreements must also contain specifics and details about financial provisions.

How Are Visitation Rights Determined?

  • If one parent is given custody, visitation rights will be granted to the parent who is not awarded temporary custody by the court.
  • The parent who has not been awarded custody will be awarded visitation rights unless there is an exceptional circumstance.
  • If there is a history of violence or drug abuse, then the court can deny visitation rights.
  • The court opines and maintains that a healthy relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child.


1. How Long Can a Temporary Guardianship Last?

A temporary guardian is the appointment of a person who is legally allowed to manage financial, personal, and medical matters for a limited time period. A temporary guardianship is granted for a limited time period. One who is appointed as a temporary guardian will cease to enjoy the rights of managing affairs at the end of the period.

Most state laws set a time period for the court-appointed temporary guardianship. In most cases, the time period is up to 60 days. The duration can vary depending on the situation. In case of an emergency or a medical situation, the time period can only be assumed. A permanent guardianship can be sought in case the time period extends.

A temporary guardianship set in advance by anyone is more like a contract. The time period can be fixed and included in the legal documents. If the person being awarded guardianship cannot participate in the process, the court with employ a different set of rules to protect the person. The time limitations set in the contract must be reasonable and realistic.

The temporary guardianship will last only until the completion of a certain task laid out in the contract. For example: if a temporary guardian is appointed with the sole objective of filing a tax return, the guardianship will end once the task gets completed. A new contract must be formed for any further or new tasks.

2. Should I Hire a Lawyer for the Temporary Custody Proceedings?

A family law attorney or someone who specializes in estate planning could be consulted for temporary custody or guardianship proceedings. Even if one is not involved in the guardianship, they could bring a legal claim against a guardian if they think the terms of the contract are not being carried out properly.

If one wishes to take over guardianship from someone for a temporary period, a lawyer or attorney can be consulted. There are a lot of documents and paperwork involved in seeking temporary custody or guardianship, and the guidance of a qualified lawyer could help with this process.

A notary is also required during temporary custody proceedings, just as in most legal proceedings. All documents sent to court need to be notarized. Every piece of evidence and witness statement gathered to support your application for a temporary guardianship needs to be notarized to make it legal.

3. Can Temporary Child Custody Orders Become Permanent?

Although a temporary custody order is a short-term arrangement pending the approval of a final permanent custody arrangement, the temporary order does often evolve into a permanent custody order. The court will reverse the temporary custody order to grant the permanent custody of the child. During the period of divorce, as part of the final arrangements, the judge will assign the permanent custody of the child that will entail how, where, when the parents will share the legal and physical custody of the child. The judgment will also state which parent will have the sole custody, both physical and legal, of the child or if both parents will share it. If both parties cannot achieve a consensus of who will have the custody of the child, there will be a trial period scheduled so that each party can present evidence to convince the court about who will be the better caretaker for the child.

In this interim period, as time passes, the current temporary custodial arrangement becomes a more stable environment. The child is used to a certain routine, and it becomes difficult to convince the court about any change that could hamper the child’s best interests. The parent who is granted the temporary custody gains advantage, and the probability of granting permanent custody in the ensuing battle becomes stronger. A court proceeding to seeking temporary custody must be taken seriously, and a parent must think before surrendering the temporary custodial rights after careful consideration.

Child custody cases can be complicated. It is best to consult a family lawyer and discuss how to prepare for a temporary custody hearing and any other aspects related to it. Getting a temporary custody order of your child in effect before the final divorce proceedings could prevent a lot of headaches. It helps to avoid any misunderstandings with the other parent and also offers a recourse if the other parent does not comply with the custody arrangement in place.

Also Read:

Effects of Divorce on Children
Parenting Mistakes Divorced Mother Should Avoid
How to Tell Your Family Your Are Getting Divorced

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