Temporary child custody agreements and temporary child custody orders are common at the beginning of a divorce. Divorcing parents would do well to come to an agreement on child custody and avoid the high court costs associated with attorney fees and protracted litigation. Divorcing parents often reach temporary child custody agreements by negotiating a fair parenting agreement that reflects the overall best interest of their children among each other out-of-court or through an alternative dispute resolution service such as mediation. If parents are unable to agree on child custody pending a full custody hearing, a temporary child custody schedule may be ordered by a judge. In some counties the judge may rely on the opinion of a mediator or child custody evaluator who reports back to the judge after meeting with the parents -- and in some cases the mediator or evaluator may interview the child.
Because divorce and child custody can take several months to over a year to finalize, temporary child custody agreements are often reached or ordered by a judge pending a full child custody hearing. At the custody hearing, if either parent wishes to modify the temporary custody schedule he/she will need to present his/her concerns with the schedule and reasons why it should be changed -- and how that change would be better for the child. The overall best interest of the child is the guideline or standard for child custody determinations. There are many factors the court may consider in determining the overall best interest of the child. State child custody laws may differ from state to state. Additionally, divorcing parents need to understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody and be prepared to address both at the time of the hearing.
It is important that parents understand the implications of "temporary child custody agreements" or "temporary child custody orders." The term "temporary" can be misleading as temporary custody agreements or temporary custody orders often become permanent. Additionally, it is not uncommon for it to cost tens of the thousands of dollars and several months to over a year of being tied up in the court for a temporary custody agreement or order to be modified if one of the parents objects to changing it. Therefore, you would do well to negotiate a temporary child custody agreement you are satisfied with at the beginning of the divorce with the understanding that there is a very good chance it may become permanent.
Parents who can amicably settle child custody out-of-court can save thousands of dollars in attorney fees and more importantly avoid the detrimental effects typically brought onto divorcing parents and their children -- who are often caught in the middle and dragged through the courts with their parents.
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