Temporary child custody laws

Updated March 23, 2017

When parents of a child divorce, or end their relationship, the custody of a child can take months or even years to decide. A temporary child custody order then comes into play, in which the court decides who will gain custody of the child until a permanent custody order is established. To ensure that both parents of a child abide by the terms of the custody order, temporary child custody laws were established.


Temporary child custody laws were established for parents who can not agree on the custody arrangements for their children. Parents have the option, which most family courts prefer, to reach an agreement for the custody of the child and how the parents will share expenses of a child. Even if the parents have reached an agreement, neither parent legally has custody of a child until the court has ordered a permanent or temporary custody order.


The law allows a judge to determine what evidence or testimony he will hear from the parents of the child. Some judges only accept written evidence. Other judges allow the parents and any witnesses to testify about their thoughts, their sides of the story and recommendations. It is ultimately up to the judge to decide who receives temporary custody of the child.


It is a misconception that once a temporary child custody order is made, the order cannot be modified. A parent who wants to challenge or have the terms of the temporary child custody order changed should file for emergency modification. The court will then have an emergency trial or hearing and decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Filing a Petition

A parent does not need an attorney when petitioning for temporary custody of his child. The parent just needs to petition the court in his county for temporary guardianship of the child, until child custody is decided in a final hearing. In some counties, temporary custody of a child can be awarded within days after the petition is filed, depending on state laws and the court schedule.

Child Support

A temporary child custody order does not just grant a parent temporary custody of the child; it also allows the custodial parent to request child support. The courts will determine the amount of child support the other parent has to pay. Once the permanent order has been made, a new child support hearing is generally necessary.

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About the Author

Taunda Edwards began writing in 1997 and received her bachelor's degree in secondary education from Miami University of Ohio in 2004. In 2005 she pursued her writing career on a full-time basis. Her first novel was published by T.A.D.D. Writes publications. She was a 2006 "Moviemaker Magazine" feature.