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Child Custody
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Temporary Custody and Visitation Rights

If you have decided to get divorced and you have a child or children, you need to think about where they will live and who will care for them while the divorce proceeds. A divorce may take a long time to become final, and to protect your child between now and then, you and your spouse need to work out a plan for temporary visitation, custody, care and support of your child.

Defining Temporary Custody and Visitation

There are many types of child custody. If you receive custody, your child will live with you and you will provide his or her daily care.

If you do not have custody of your child, you may have visitation, the right to see your child.

A court can issue an order-a decision that applies to both parents-before the divorce is completed that says which parent has custody of the child. This is a temporary custody order, and it helps to create stability for the family while the divorce proceeds. It also helps to prevent one parent from taking the child away.

How to Get Temporary Custody and Visitation

Both you and your spouse may agree on how to take care of your child during the divorce. If this is the case, you can put your agreement in writing and give it to the court for approval.

If you and your spouse cannot agree, you may file a petition for temporary custody. The petition is a written request asking the court to decide the custody arrangement. Your lawyer may file the petition as part of the divorce paperwork or file it later as a separate document.

The court will decide custody based on the best interests of the child. Many factors are important to the decision. The court will give you notice before the custody hearing, and you may need to support your request with an affidavit (or written statement) or with testimony (speaking in court). Your lawyer will help you show why you should have custody of your child.

How Can I Protect My Child From a Bad Situation?

The court looks at a number of things before it gives custody to a parent. It may withhold visitation or custody from a parent who does not act in the best interests of the child.

At times the lifestyle or actions of a parent are not safe for a child. These issues are important when a court looks at a petition. In cases of child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, or abandonment, visitation or custody may be denied.

The court may issue an order that takes custody away from a parent. You may ask the court for emergency temporary child custody if you see that you need to protect your child and can prove it with facts.