Divorce is never easy. It can be even more difficult when there are young children involved. One important aspect of a divorce is figuring out child custody arrangements. If you are separated from your spouse and living apart, you will have to figure out where the children will live during the divorce process. If you and your spouse can’t agree on temporary custody, a court has the right to step in an make the decision for you.
Figuring Out Custody During Your Divorce
When you get a divorce, you and your spouse will have to agree on certain terms. These can include property division and spousal support. As a parent getting divorced, you have the responsibility of figuring out a permanent custody arrangement for your children. This arrangement dictates which parent the children will live with, and when. Custody can also reflect the visitation rights of a non-custodial parent. This custody arrangement becomes effective when your divorce is finalized.
The process of divorce can take a while. At the very least, it must take six months from start to finish. If you and your spouse are living apart during the divorce process, you’ll have to figure out a temporary custody arrangement for your kids.
Custody During the Divorce Process is Temporary
The custody arrangement that is used while the divorce is ongoing does not have to last forever. The temporary agreement about where your kids will live should simply allow them to continue to live their lives as normally as possible. Your permanent custody agreement will take effect the moment your divorce is finalized.
Try to Agree on a Temporary Custody Arrangement With Your Spouse
You want to keep as many decisions about your family in your hands, as possible. This includes figuring out where the kids will stay while you hammer out the details of your divorce. In California, courts encourage parents to find an arrangement that is in their child’s best interest. In most cases, this involves keeping children in frequent and continuing contact with both children. Try not to worry too much about the ins and outs of a temporary arrangement. Simply try to find a solution that works best for the kids.
Mediation Required Before a Court Will Step In
Family law judges want parents to resolve as many disputes on their own as possible. This includes figuring out temporary custody arrangements during a divorce. Courts will be very hesitant to step in unless parents have exhausted all avenues of discussion. In fact, you will be required to attend a mediation session with your spouse before a court will even hear your dispute.
Mediation uses the expertise of a neutral third party. This party, who is known as the mediator, helps you and your spouse understand the bigger picture and move closer to a resolution. Again, it is important to remember that the custody arrangement that you agree on for the duration of your divorce is not permanent. You will have the opportunity to fight for a more permanent custody arrangement that is more to your liking.
Courts Will Issue a Temporary Custody Order If You Can’t Agree
Courts have the authority to step in and issue a temporary custody order if you and your spouse can’t agree. You can ask for the court’s help by filing a Request for Order. If the request is granted, a date for your custody hearing will be set.
At your temporary custody hearing, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to address a judge and state your case. The judge will consider arguments, testimony, and evidence presented by both sides. When deciding custody, the judge will try to find an arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. Factors that may influence a judge’s decision include:
- A parent’s demonstrated abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Distance from a parent’s home to the child’s school
- The amount of time each parent can realistically spend with the child
- The parent’s involvement in the child’s life prior to divorce
- Allegations of domestic violence, and
- Any other issues that may be relevant to the child’s health, safety, and wellbeing.
Once the court issues a temporary order, you and your spouse are obligated to comply with all of its terms. The temporary order will become void once your divorce is finalized. The terms of your permanent custody arrangement will then become effective.
Do you want to learn more about temporary custody during a divorce? Feel free to contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys to schedule a free consultation.