How to Give and Get Temporary Child Custody

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Temporary custody is often determined during a separation or divorce, pending a final agreement. The court will determine temporary custody based on the best interests of the child. Agreements may start as temporary but may become permanent by a court of law. There are several other reasons why a parent would grant another person temporary custody of his or her child.

Reasons for Temporary Custody Arrangements

There are several reasons why a parent would consider giving temporary custody to another person or couple. Reasons for temporary guardianship include:

  • Competing responsibilities: A parent with an unusual work schedule, who has work-related travel commitments, or who has exceptional educational responsibilities may ask a relative or friend to care for their children temporarily.
  • Divorce or separation: Parents agree to a temporary custody arrangement while waiting for a final child custody order to be issued.
  • Domestic violence: If the child is threatened with abuse, the court may order a temporary custody arrangement in order to protect the child.
  • Illness or hospitalization: A parent who is temporarily incapacitated may ask a friend or relative to care for their children for a short time.
  • Lack of financial resources: A parent who cannot afford to care for their children may grant temporary guardianship to a trusted relative.

It's important for divorcing parents to know that the parent who receives temporary custody of their child or children during divorce proceedings is more likely to be granted permanent custody in the long run. While courts will consider other options and may ask the child for their opinion, it is usually easiest on the child to avoid changing custody.

Choosing a Custodian

Anyone can, in theory, be a temporary custodian. It's important, however, to choose a custodian who will be able to provide consistent care and support, and with whom the child's parents have a strong relationship.

Parents may consider the following people as appropriate temporary custodians of their children:

  • Extended family members
  • Friends
  • Godparents
  • Grandparents

Drafting an Agreement

Parents may choose to execute a temporary child custody agreement if they decide to grant temporary child custody to another person. A temporary child custody agreement should contain the following:

  • Specifics concerning the parent's right to visitation
  • Specifics of where the child will reside
  • Time period (when the agreement starts and ends)

In addition to these details, temporary child custody agreements generally include information about financial arrangements.

Visitation Rights

Typically, a parent who is not granted temporary custody is usually afforded generous visitation rights. A court will award visitation rights unless there are extenuating circumstances such as a history of violence or drug abuse. The court takes the position that maintaining a relationship with both parents serves the child's best interests.

For more information about temporary custody, review additional resources about child custody or speak with a qualified attorney in your state.

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By Debrina Washington
Debrina Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues.