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How a Temporary Custody Award Can Impact Your Children

Most couples file for divorce well after they have physically separated and established separate homes. In fact, a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences mandates a period of living apart before the divorce will be granted. While living separately may be necessary for the adults in the course of the divorce, it can certainly create challenges for a divorcing couple with children. Before the divorce is finalized, a decision must be made, either by the couple or by the court, regarding custody arrangements for the children, and arriving at such a decision may take a significant amount of time. Thus, the court may issue a temporary custody order to be in force while the divorce process is completed.

Understanding Temporary Custody

Either parent may request a temporary custody order to meet the need of their child until a permanent order is finalized. As with any custody proceeding, the parents may be able to reach a temporary agreement which the court must verify is in the best interests of the child. If they are not able to agree, the court may issue an order based on the same considerations required by law for a permanent order. These include:

  • The wishes of each parent;
  • The wishes of the child, weighted appropriately based on age and maturity;
  • The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and others;
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community environments;
  • The physical and mental health of all parties;
  • The history of violence or abuse, and the threat of such actions by either parent; and
  • The ability and intent of each parent to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.

As in determining a permanent order, the court may award joint custody to both parents, or, as is common in temporary arrangements, sole custody to one parent while granting visitation to the other.

Potential Impacts

A temporary custody order is primarily intended to address the family’s situation as necessary until a permanent determination is made. However, in many cases, the temporary order plays a significant role in the permanent order as well.  This is because once a temporary custody order is put in place, the child and the parents quickly become accustomed to its terms. A status quo is established as the situation reaches a sort of family equilibrium.

Once a status quo has been established, very few courts are likely to alter it by creating an entirely new permanent custody order. In practice, this often means that a temporary order will transition into a permanent order, absent a substantial showing that the temporary order is endangering the child.

Legal Help for Temporary Custody

With many temporary orders becoming permanent, it is vital that divorcing parents take the proceeding for temporary custody very seriously. If you are going through a divorce and would like to petition the court for temporary custody of your child, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We will review your case and provide you the professional legal representation you deserve.