When you and your spouse have decided to divorce, emotions tend to take control of how individuals behave. You may have the best intentions of being amicable and fair, especially when it comes to dividing your time with your children. Recently, I had a client who was under the impression both he and his wife will “sort this out” together and not involve attorneys. For the first 3 weeks, everything seemed to be working smoothly concerning sharing their time with their children equally. Then suddenly, his agreed-upon nights and weekends seemed to conflict with her plans. This was followed by excuses as to why the children could not be with him such as wanting to be with their friends, not feeling well, too much homework, and the list went on and on. It became clear to both my client and his attorney; that he was slowly being alienated from the kids. After enduring this for over 3 months, his attorney had filed for a temporary parenting plan.

I’ve encountered countless well-intended fathers finding themselves in what becomes a hostile & high conflict situation, which is why a temporary parenting plan is a good idea to protect your interests and preserve your rights as a parent.

What is a temporary parenting plan? Like other temporary orders, a temporary parenting plan will set the parameters for what you and your spouse can and cannot do regarding the children while your divorce is pending. Fortunately, they are usually put into place quickly and will cover the period of the time between when you file for custody/divorce and when the final custody determination is made.

Once the plan is in place, both you and your spouse are obligated to follow its orders.

How does this protect you? For example, it may prohibit your spouse from taking the children and moving out of state. Another example, having temporary custody (your time-sharing) stipulated by your spouse could prevent your spouse from saying you kidnapped your children if you moved out of the family home.

What can I expect from temporary orders? Temporary orders can include temporary child support, time-sharing, alimony, exclusive use and possession of a marital home, and attorney’s fees.

What sort of things does the judge consider? Temporary orders are usually put in place without a full hearing regarding the best interests of the child, but a judge will still generally keep that guiding principle in mind. That means the judge will probably consider things such as:

  • Which parent normally takes care of the children, such as doctor’s visits, school, etc.
  • Is there a valid reason to temporarily limit one parent’s time with the children?
  • Is the parent seeking custody willing and able to facilitate a positive relationship between the children and the other parent?

Keep in mind, that temporary custody (parenting plans) may or may not evolve into a permanent one, so I recommend proceeding carefully when you make your request. Furthermore, the court always has the discretion to overrule agreed-upon terms based on the best interests of the children.

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach for Men