Custody battles can be contentious and are often hardest on the children. In some cases, neither parent is in a position to care for the child while litigation is ongoing. This is where temporary child custody may be an option. Depending on the nature of the case, the child can be temporarily placed with a family member, even if one or both parents object. Whether you are one of the parents or you are a relative, you should understand the circumstances in which this arrangement may be necessary.
The dedicated attorneys of Orlando Family Team are here for you. We can review your case and explain whether a family member (or you, if you are the individual requesting it) may have the right to ask the court to grant temporary custody.
What is Temporary Custody?
Florida allows a non-parent family member to petition the court for temporary custody when the parents are unfit or unable to care for the child. This custody will only be in place for a limited period of time, usually ending upon divorce or the issuance of a permanent child custody order. Temporary custody can be granted without the parents giving up their legal rights to the child.
It’s impossible to identify all of the potential situations in which temporary custody may be necessary, but some examples include:
- A parent has taken the child or poses a danger to him or her
- One parent is preventing the other from seeing or having contact with the child
- The parents’ relationship with one another is so hostile that they cannot effectively co-parent
- A parent is seriously ill or injured, to the point that he or she cannot care for the child
- A parent has been incarcerated
- Other exigent circumstances
Note that while in some cases, it may be the other parent who is requesting temporary custody, the arrangement is available to non-parents as well.
Who Can Petition the Court for Temporary Custody?
The following relatives can request that a judge temporarily place the child with them:
- An extended family member who has the signed and notarized consent of the child’s parents
- An extended family member who is acting as a substitute parent for the child, and with whom the child is currently residing
This list may include brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
The Child is Already Living With Me — Do I Need A Court Order?
The circumstances of many child custody cases are such that a relative will informally take custody of the child while a parent, or both parents, are facing personal issues. But it is important to have this custody formally recognized by way of a temporary custody order. The order will allow the person (or persons) granted temporary custody rights to do the following:
- Make critical health-related decisions for the child
- Consent to medical operations or other procedures involving the child
- Have access to important information about the child, such as educational and medical records
- Enroll the child in school
In other words, the temporary custody order grants a form of legal custody to persons who already may have informal physical custody. Without this order, the person who is substituting for the parent cannot take the above actions. Many children who come from toxic homes to live with another person do so because they have been abused or neglected. That makes it all the more important for the extended family member to have the legal right to make critical decisions involving the child.
When Will Temporary Custody Be Terminated?
There is usually no set termination date for temporary custody, but it often ends when the court makes a determination of permanent custody. The family member to whom temporary custody was awarded may voluntarily return custody of the child to one or both parents. One or both of the parents may also ask the court to terminate the arrangement.
If the extended family member or one of the parents wishes to end temporary custody, he or she will have to go to court. The judge will conduct a hearing to determine whether the parents are fit and able to resume custody of the child. As with all custody decisions, the court is obligated to act in the child’s best interests.
A court can also modify the temporary custody order. Often, these modifications are necessary to give the relative more authority or to clarify a provision of the order.
How Can An Attorney Help Me?
If you are a relative who is concerned about the well-being of the child in question, you may wish to take legal action. But before you do, speak with an experienced custody attorney who can advise you as to the likelihood of you winning temporary custody. Your attorney can also clarify what responsibilities you will be assuming, and can explain any unclear provisions of a temporary custody order if one is handed down. In many cases, a petitioner can obtain the consent of one or both parents, and your lawyer can assist with this process as well.
On the other hand, you may be one of the parents who is opposed to temporary custody being granted to a relative. The court can disregard your objection if it believes awarding temporary custody is in the child’s best interests. Your custody lawyer can explain the grounds upon which the relative is petitioning the court, and can build an effective case for defeating the request.
Contact an Orlando Temporary Child Custody Attorney Today
All custody cases are difficult. But a request for temporary child custody adds a degree of uncertainty that can make your case that much more challenging. Let Orlando Family Team help alleviate the stress and make sure your interests are represented in court. Contact us now.