How to Get Temporary Custody in Pennsylvania

Rear view of a father and daughter holding hands

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or another family member who cares about the well-being of a child, figuring out how to file for temporary custody in Pennsylvania can be overwhelming. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our child custody attorneys in the Lehigh Valley provide legal representation for all types of family law matters. We can guide you through the process of getting temporary custody and help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

Emergency Custody vs. Temporary Custody in PA

Emergency Custody

Emergency custody is utilized in situations where a child faces imminent harm or danger that requires immediate intervention by the court. In Pennsylvania, you must show the court that there are compelling reasons for taking immediate action to protect a child’s best interests. Some common grounds for seeking emergency custody include:

  • Parental incapacity due to issues such as substance abuse, physical and mental health problems, or incarceration
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual child abuse or neglect
  • Domestic violence issues
  • Other situations involving an immediate threat to a child’s well-being or safety, including unforeseen events such as medical emergencies, natural disasters, or accidents

Temporary Custody

Also called interim custody in Pennsylvania, temporary custody is designed to provide stability for a child during divorce proceedings or while a custody case is pending. It is often granted during legal proceedings such as:

Divorce proceedings – A temporary custody order may be granted in cases where parents are going through a divorce. In this situation, the intention of a temporary custody order is to provide a stable living arrangement for a child until a final determination is made after a custody hearing.

Guardianship proceedings – A guardian may seek temporary custody during proceedings to modify or establish guardianship.

Custody disputes – If there is a dispute over child custody and the court needs time to review the case, a temporary custody order may be issued to provide stability for the child until a full hearing is conducted.

In any custody matter, the primary consideration of the court is the best interests of the child. A child custody lawyer can evaluate your circumstances, advise you on whether you have valid grounds to file for emergency or temporary custody and assist you throughout the process.

What Does a Temporary Custody Order Include?

Temporary custody orders usually address concerns such as whether sole or joint custody is in the best interest of the child. This typically includes physical custody and legal custody. Temporary custody orders also address issues such as parenting time, child visitation, financial support, and other matters specific to the situation.

Filing for Temporary Custody in PA

Depending on the circumstances, a temporary custody order may be requested as part of divorce proceedings or can be filed separately. If you and your spouse agree on temporary custody arrangements, your divorce attorney can draft an agreement to include in divorce filings.

Forms and processes for filing for temporary custody vary by county in Pennsylvania, so it’s critical to seek the counsel of a family law attorney familiar with local courts. There may be specific forms you need to fill out, and a petition for interim custody will likely need to be filed with the family court in the appropriate county. In this petition, you must provide detailed information about the child, the involved parties, and your reasons for seeking temporary custody. A child custody attorney can ensure that the court procedures are followed and all required documents are correctly submitted.

Typically, the court will schedule a hearing in which each party has an opportunity to present evidence, arguments, and testimony. The court considers various factors regarding what’s in the best interest of the child, such as the child’s age, each parent’s ability to offer a safe, stable environment, and the child’s relationship with each parent.

After the judge makes a decision, a temporary child custody order will be entered. The order will outline the terms and conditions of the arrangement, including visitation, child support obligations, and any other relevant matters. Temporary custody orders are usually valid for a specified period, after which they may need to be reviewed or renewed by the court.

How a Lehigh Valley Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

Navigating the process of obtaining temporary custody in Pennsylvania can be complex. Requirements and procedures differ depending on the circumstances and local family court practices. Your child custody attorney can help you stay informed about the status of your case and follow up as necessary to ensure that a temporary custody arrangement remains in place as needed.

If circumstances change or any issues regarding a temporary custody order arise, it may be necessary to seek further court intervention. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you effectively navigate the process, ensure your rights and the child’s rights are protected, and work toward achieving the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

Contact a Family Law Attorney in the Lehigh Valley

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our family law team understands that issues associated with child custody, divorce, and financial support can be contentious. If you need assistance with getting temporary custody in Pennsylvania, contact us or call us at 610-867-2900 to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney. We offer several locations for your convenience.


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