Why You Might Need an Emergency Temporary Child Custody Order
Taking care of a child’s needs during the divorce process is challenging and not always easy to ascertain. If the parents are experiencing a high amount of conflict, this can compound and complicate how a parent should approach protecting his or her child from negative consequences. Depending on the source of the conflict, requesting a Court implement a temporary order allocating parental responsibilities (how Courts now refer to child custody matters) may be necessary to protect the child’s wellbeing. In addition, emergency motions governing parental access and/or authority over the child may also be filed if there is an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety.
While not uncommon, requests for temporary custody arrangements are not a standard practice in divorce cases, and Courts will expect to see some basis for such a request, and ideally, some agreement on the terms. Actress Jennifer Hudson is currently battling over custody of her son, and recently agreed to give her ex-fiancé temporary custody due to her work-related travel schedule that left the father as the primary caretaker, in spite of a previous protective order for physical and emotional abuse.
Consider the following information regarding how Courts evaluate requests for temporary custody, and how these orders can influence the terms of the final child custody.
Any parent who is a party in a divorce or other child custody proceeding has the right to ask the Court for a temporary custody order. These orders make clear which parent has authority to make decisions, as well as how often a child will be in the physical care of each party. Petitions for this type of Court action are often necessary if the parents anticipate, or are in the midst of, a protracted custody battle to ensure the child’s best interests are given priority.
Further, in relationships involving abuse, these temporary orders can play an important role in keeping the victimized parent and the child safe from violence and harm. Like all custody matters, Court decisions for temporary orders must assess which type of arrangement would protect the best interests of the child, and require the Judge to evaluate the following factors, among others:
- The wishes of each parent;
- The wishes of the child, depending upon age and level of maturity;
- The ability of each parent to support a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community;
- The presence of violence or abuse in the home; and
- The health and wellbeing of all parties.
Normally, a hearing must be held before a Court will decide which course to take so that both parents have an opportunity to present their claims on child custody. However, an emergency order for temporary custody may be filed, which dispenses with the need for a hearing or formal notice to the other party (email or a telephone call may be sufficient), if the parent requesting the order can show an immediate danger to the child, such as leaving the child in the care of a convicted child molester or taking the child across State lines without permission.
An important point that should be emphasized is the fact that Illinois law presumes full involvement by both parents in the child’s life is in the child’s best interests. Thus, if a parent is seeking a temporary order that would limit the other parent’s access to the child, evidence of abuse will likely be necessary.
Influence on Final Custody Order
One caveat about temporary orders that can help or hurt a parent’s ability to obtain the custody arrangement he or she wants is that Courts are inclined to keep the same provisions in the final custody order, especially if the child is thriving under the present arrangement. A Judge would likely require a significant reason to change the terms under these circumstances, and an experienced divorce attorney should be involved to ensure this step is a good strategy for a particular case.
Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney
Child custody matters need immediate and detailed attention from an experienced divorce attorney so important parental rights are not lost, and the child’s needs are fully considered. Passionate Hoffman Estates family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. has years of experience helping parents resolve child custody disputes, and is available to evaluate the options in your case. Contact the office for a free initial consultation.