The custody of your children is one of the most important issues that should be sorted out in a divorce. Some parents can agree to split custody, while others find themselves in a battle over exclusive rights to their children to how to arrange a split that works for everyone. A child custody lawyer is a good source for legal representation and advice on a variety of custody-related issues, including which parent should get custody of the children while the divorce is in progress.
When Are Custody Arrangements Made?
When children are involved in a divorce, permanent custody arrangements are set in the final decree, which is a document that lays out all of the divorce terms. Other terms that might be factored into the final decree include the division of assets and provisions for child support. When a judge signs the final decree, the divorce becomes official.
In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing spouses come to an agreement on all the terms in the final decree before going in front of the judge. In a contested divorce, each parent presents his or her arguments in a hearing and the judge sets the terms after hearing both sides. Juries are not allowed to weigh in on custody issues, which must be resolved by a judge when they are a source of disagreement for the divorcing couple.
Ask a Child Custody Lawyer: Who Gets Custody of the Children During the Trial?
A divorce trial and the negotiations leading up to it can take months. How are temporary custody arrangements made to ensure that the children are safe and cared for throughout the process?
The Temporary Orders Hearing
What Are Temporary Orders?
Many of the terms that need to be resolved in a divorce are immediate concerns pertaining to the day-to-day well-being of everyone in the family. Matters like child support, spousal support, custody, and visitation often require temporary orders to regulate the finances and structure of the family until the divorce is finalized. Temporary custody orders can determine:
- The children’s primary residence
- The children’s primary caretaker
- The visitation schedule for the other parent
- Restraining orders, if necessary
How to Request a Temporary Orders Hearing
Not all families need temporary orders, so it is your responsibility to request a temporary order hearing if you want one. The request is usually made by filing a rule nasi in the county where the defendant resides. In a divorce case, the defendant is the spouse who responds to the petition for divorce, as opposed to the spouse who initially serves the divorce papers.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Hearing?
The length of time it takes to schedule a temporary orders hearing varies from county to county. Some counties can grant a hearing within a few weeks of receiving the request, while others require two to three months.
If your family cannot wait for the temporary orders hearing, you can request an emergency hearing to have ex parte orders put in place. Drug use, kidnapping, severe financial hardship, and domestic abuse are all issues that could warrant emergency orders.
You can expect to receive an emergency orders hearing in as little as 24 hours after you file a document called the Motion for Emergency Hearing. The motion should explain why circumstances in your family necessitate emergency orders. Working with child custody attorneys in Atlanta, GA can help you draft a motion that effectively conveys a sense of urgency. In addition to filing for ex parte orders, you can contact domestic abuse programs in Georgia if you believe you or your children are in danger.
How Do Judges Decide Which Parent Gets Custody?
In Georgia, judges do not factor in the gender of each parent when making custody determinations. While there is a misconception that women are more likely to win custody of their children than men, judges are instructed to make custody decisions based only on the best interests of the children.
During the Trial
When making temporary orders, judges consider where the children will be physically safe and where they will receive the best support for their basic needs. If there are no extenuating circumstances, such as the threat of child abuse, a judge is most likely to place the children with the parent who has chosen to remain in the family home.
After the Trial
When making permanent custody arrangements, judges consider:
- The amount of time each parent can spend with the children
- The financial, mental, and emotional stability of each parent
- The emotional bonds between the parents and the children
- Emotional bonds between the children and any step-children, half-siblings, or other household members
- The location of each parent’s residence with respect to the children’s school, doctors, and recreational facilities
- The preferences of children over age 11
While some parents can work out temporary custody arrangements on their own, other couples require the input of a judge. By requesting an emergency orders hearing and/or a temporary orders hearing, parents can resolve custody issues temporarily as they sort out the final divorce terms.