The best interest of the child is always the overriding standard that Virginia law judges apply when dealing with children of divorcing parents. In most cases, child custody orders are issued as part of the court’s final orders upon the dissolution of the marriage. In some cases, however, such as where there is a prolonged legal separation prior to the divorce’s finalization, temporary child custody orders may be issued.
Initially, legal experts caution that judges will seek to maintain temporary orders to become permanent orders without alteration. In applying the best interest principle, continuity of the newly established custody agreement and lack of disruption is favored. A change in circumstance may warrant reconsideration, but it must be one that makes sense to the judge and more importantly benefits the child in some manner.
Some circumstances may exist where a parent will ask the court to award temporary custody to someone other than the child’s other parent. While the fitness of a parent is always a proper issue for the court’s scrutiny, when a non-parent is in the equation, the judge will be even more circumspect. Grandparents, godparents and close family friends are among the people most likely to awarded temporary custody for specific reasons. Those reasons may include financial difficulties, extensive work-related traveling or temporary health concerns.
Temporary orders will be specific as to begin and end dates as well as parents’ visitation rights while the temporary orders are in place. A family law attorney may assist in establishing child custody orders and other divorce legal issues, including agreement modification and enforcing a child custody order.