Despite some minor procedural variations between states, the laws governing filing for temporary child custody are largely the same across the U.S. Two common situations exist in which temporary child custody is sought. First, temporary custody is ordered while divorce, legal separation or paternity are proceeding. Second, temporary custody is ordered when the parent with custody is unable to care for the child, at least on short-term basis.
Obtain a motion for temporary child custody form from the clerk of the court. Court clerks usually maintain a number of standardized forms for use by individuals involved in cases without legal representation.
Determine the proper standard applied to your particular request for establishing temporary child custody. If there is no prior custody order, you demonstrate what is in the best interest of the child. If there is an existing child custody order, you must set forth a material change of circumstances sufficient to warrant an alteration in the custodial arrangement, even on a temporary basis.
Complete the motion form, including setting forth the appropriate standard. Again, the standards are "best interests of the child" and "material change of circumstances." Include specific information on why the best interests of the child are served with the temporary custody arrangement you propose. In the alternative, identify the facts supporting the contention that there is a material change of circumstances.
File the motion with the court clerk.
Schedule a hearing date on your motion. Scheduling is done either through the court of the clerk's office or the administrative assistant for the judge assigned the case.
Send a copy of the motion to the other parent together with notice of the hearing. Delivering a copy of the motion and the hearing notice completes the filing process.