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What are temporary custody orders?

When you get divorced as the parent of a minor child, the court can determine your custody arrangement if you and your child’s other parent cannot reach a mutual agreement. Whether your situation is amicable or contentious, the court will eventually issue a final custody order. Final orders specify legal and physical custody, a parenting time schedule, as well as child support. Both parents will be bound by the terms of this legal final order.

The process of issuing a final order however can take time. In the event of a contentious custody dispute, the court will consider many factors, including the child’s best interests, and it could take weeks or even months for the court to issue a final order.

However, during this time and until a final order is entered, the court may issue a temporary order also known as a pendente lite order. Temporary Orders may provide for where the child(ren) will reside as well as a parenting time schedule. Once the final order is issued, the temporary order will no longer apply.

Are temporary orders automatic?

No, this is not an automatic process in New Jersey. Rather, one of the parents, either you or your ex, must request a temporary order by filing an application with the court. Ideally, you and your ex collaborate together to determine how you’re going to care for the children pending your divorce case and agree to a temporary consent order. But, if you cannot reach an agreement, or if there is some sort of conflict over the decisions, then the court can decide on the types of temporary orders that should be put into effect.

Are temporary orders different than emergency orders?

Emergency orders are generally provided if one parent believes that the child may be in imminent danger. For example, if you think that your ex is abusive to the children, or if you believe they may try to flee the country to prevent you from obtaining custody, emergency orders may be issued by the Court. These orders are also issued on a temporary basis, while the court figures out a long-term solution.

Exploring your options

Child custody can be very complex, and it’s important for you to understand your options and how to utilize them. If you have questions about temporary orders, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from a legal professional.

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