Temporarily Signing Over Rights to a Child

By Rebecca Sims
Temporary child custody arrangements are sometimes necessary.

mother holding newborn child #9 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com

There are multiple circumstances under which a parent or guardian might sign over temporary custody rights to a child. The most common reasons include temporary custody orders during divorce proceedings, and custody arrangements made because the parent or guardian with primary custody is temporarily unable to care for the child. In all states, family courts are guided by the principle of seeking the best interest of the child. Temporary custody arrangements are granted on the basis of this principle alone. Temporarily relinquishing custody of a child does not mean that you will lose custody permanently.

Talk to an Attorney

Talk to an attorney about temporarily signing over custody rights to your child. During a divorce proceeding, temporary custody is usually given to one or the other parent until formal custody arrangements can be made. Agreeing to a temporary custody and visitation plan does not mean that these arrangements will be permanent, though they often become so. Keep in mind however, that the best interests of the child can include maintaining consistency in long-term living arrangements for the psychological well-being of the child.

Reasons for Signing over Temporary Custody

Determine your reasons for signing over temporary custody of your child. Be exact about the circumstances and, in particular, about the length of time you plan to sign over temporary custody of a child. If your decision is independent of another court action, such as a divorce, you must initiate the temporary custody order yourself. In this case you must file a Limited Non-durable Power of Attorney for Minor Child(ren) Care with the court. Talk to an attorney and make sure that you understand the full implications of this procedure.

Decide on a Guardian

Decide on a temporary guardian for your child. Fully discuss every aspect of the temporary custody arrangement with the prospective guardian and make sure that you and the person that you have chosen are in agreement. Establish rules and guidelines for communicating with the temporary guardian and with your child. If there are special circumstances that will make it difficult to communicate with the guardian or your child, such as military deployment or incarceration, spell these out in your agreement. It is essential to maintain as much contact as possible with your child if you are to attempt to resume primary custody in the future.

File a Limited Power of Attorney Form

Obtain a form for your state for an order of limited, non-durable power of attorney for minor child(ren) care. File this form with the court, making sure that all of the details of the arrangement, such as length of time, communication schedule and monetary support arrangements (if applicable), are spelled out clearly. Follow the instructions on the form exactly. A hearing will be scheduled on your custody matter. Make sure that all of the details of your arrangement support the best interest of the child; your plan will be adopted or rejected on that basis alone.

Be Specific

Be extremely specific when making arrangements for temporary custody. Follow the laws of your state exactly, file forms in a timely manner, be on time for court and set precise time limits for the custody period. Above all, consider the best interests of your child and maintain contact with that child. Vagueness, indecisiveness, irresponsible behavior and lack of contact could make it harder to resume custody at the conclusion of the arrangement.

About the Author

Rebecca Sims is a librarian and educator, specializing in law, health sciences and education. She teaches classes in legal research, information technology, patient education, cataloging and digital asset management. Sims holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Academy of Art College and a Masters in library and information science.

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