Child custody orders are entered in cases where a family dispute, such as divorce, involves the visitation and custody arrangements of children. There are three types of custody orders in California – emergency, interim, and final.

Emergency Custody Orders

An emergency order, sometimes referred to as an ex parte order, is granted only in limited circumstances. These orders are reserved for urgent or emergency situations because the process is expedited, and the other parent cannot present evidence to the judge at an ex parte hearing.

The requesting parent must notify the other parent at least one day in advance of the hearing. The judge will hear evidence from the requesting parent on the emergency situation only to determine if an order is needed. Terms of an emergency order will be based on each particular case, but an automatic provision is that the child is not allowed to leave the state without the court’s permission.

Emergency orders remain in effect until another hearing can be held, at which both parents can present their evidence. The final hearing must take place within 20 days of issuing the temporary emergency order.

Interim Custody Orders

Interim orders are temporary orders issued by a court while a legal matter is pending. So, what are interim custody orders used for? They provide temporary terms for parents or legal guardians to abide by until a final hearing can be held.

Interim custody orders, or temporary custody orders, are often entered in divorce cases because divorces can take years to fully resolve, and child custody matters cannot wait that long to be addressed. These orders are also sometimes called pendente lite orders. Even though they are temporary, the terms must be followed until a judge modifies the order or enters a final order.

Parents seeking a temporary order may agree on the provisions and ask the court to enter an order based on their agreement, or they can request that the court decide on the terms. Keep in mind that despite being temporary, interim orders can affect final orders. How each party abides by the terms of the interim order and how the arrangements are working for both parties and the children will all be taken into consideration when a final hearing is held.

Final Custody Orders

Final orders replace any interim orders in place, and such final rulings will remain in full force and effect until the child becomes an adult or emancipates, the parents agree on alternate terms, or a court amends the order.

Types of Custody in California

There are two types of custody that are included in custody orders. Legal custody is the right of one or both parents to make decisions that affect the child’s welfare and life. Examples include medical, religious, and educational decisions. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with and for what percentage of the time they stay with each parent.

Physical custody can be listed in custody orders in general terms, but many judges choose to use a schedule that clearly specifies who has the child and when. This eliminates any confusion and makes it easier for parents to plan accordingly. For example, parents who share physical custody equally can use a week-on-week-off schedule, where the child stays with one parent for a week and then the other parent the following week.

Another popular option for shared physical custody is the 3-4-4-3 schedule. In this arrangement, the child will spend three days with one parent in the first week and four days with the other parent in the first week, then alternate the following week. Of course, shared physical custody isn’t the only option. Some custody orders grant primary physical custody to one parent and visitation to the other. The amount and schedule of visitation vary widely and are based on each family’s circumstances.

When you need support navigating your child custody case in California, contact Sarieh Law Offices at (714) 694-7723 to schedule a free consultation.