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Can a Temporary Custody Order Turn Into a Permanent Custody Order?

One of the questions I get asked quite a bit from my clients and my potential clients is whether or not a temporary custody order can turn into a permanent custody order.   The short answer is yes it can.

A lot of times if you are involved in a case and you want the court to enter orders while the case is proceeding but before there is a final decision made, what you have to do is ask the court to enter temporary orders.   If you and the other party can’t agree on what those temporary orders are going to be about…custody/decision making and parenting time with the kids, then the judge will make the decision for you.

At least where I practice temporary orders hearings are very abbreviated and often times they are an hour or less.   You have a very limited time to conduct discovery before these temporary orders hearings and a limited time to actually present evidence. So, the result of a temporary orders hearing may not be the best result you can get if you had had time to explore, discover and disclose information.

What I have seen often times is that when a judge reaches a conclusion in a temporary orders hearing, it often times sets the stage for final orders to be put in place. Often times the person who has prevailed in a temporary orders hearing, (although I think there are really no clear winners and losers in family law) is often in a position to the tell the other party, “Hey, we had this temporary orders hearing and this is what the judge saw, this is what the judge heard and made these decisions, so I think it would be a waste of time for us to continue with this lawsuit. So let’s settle on the basis of the temporary orders that have been made.

You have to look at the circumstances of your case very carefully. It may be that if there is not a lot more information that you would have presented to the judge during your temporary orders hearing, it may be a good idea to settle and use those temporary orders as a guideline. On the other hand, if the temporary orders hearing happens really early in your case and you haven’t had a chance to do all the due diligence in your case that you want to do, that you need to do to uncover all of the information that you know is out there that you can present to the judge. Then it may not be in yours or your kids’ best interest to settle on the basis of those temporary orders.

As in every case, it always depends. You have to look at the circumstances of the situation, but it is true that temporary custody orders can turn into permanent custody orders depending on your situation.