What happens after temporary custody is granted?

In California, temporary custody is often granted in one of two ways.

The first is the parents agreed to a custody arrangement, and the court made the agreement an order.

Second, the parents disagreed, and the court made temporary custody orders after a hearing.

Parents in either situation often wonder, "What happens next?"

This article will focus on the second situation - where the parents disagreed, and the court made the temporary physical custody and legal custody orders. We will not cover the first because if parents amicably agree on a custody order, the odds are high that they will reach a final one.

In that second situation, what happens afterward depends on the circumstances that led to the temporary order. Let's look closer at that. You can click on each title to reach the content below it.

Temporary Custody by an Emergency Hearing

Emergency custody orders come after an "ex parte" application that is part of a request for order. The law requires emergency custody orders not to be granted "unless there has been a showing of immediate harm to the child or immediate risk that the child will be removed from the State of California."

After this temporary order, one or a combination of the following happens:

1. The court will set a return/backup hearing date to revisit the emergency orders.

2. The court will order an investigation into the allegations that led to the temporary emergency orders. This internal investigation usually takes different forms depending on the county. In Orange County, these are called CCI (child custody investigation). It may be a PPA (parenting plan assessment) in Los Angeles. San Diego also has its procedures. Each county will be a little different.

3. The parents may conduct formal discovery into the situation, including serving written demands for information, issuing subpoenas, or taking depositions.

4. The parents typically return to court at some point, and the court may keep or change the orders depending on what resulted from the investigation and evaluation period.

Temporary Custody by a Findings and Order after Hearing

What happens after a Findings and Order after Hearing (called a FOAH) makes the temporary custody orders is different.

A FOAH means the court heard the evidence it believed it needed to hear and made temporary custody orders during the divorce or parentage case.

Suppose the court did not order a private child custody evaluation (sometimes called a "730 evaluation"). In that case, those temporary orders usually remain in effect until one of two things happens.

1. Either parent goes to court to modify those temporary orders.

2. The parents go to court for the final custody orders. The word "final" does not mean unmodifiable. It means the orders at the end of the case become part of the divorce or parentage judgment.

Temporary Custody by a Temporary Restraining Order

If the court granted one parent sole legal and sole physical custody and significantly limited or removed parenting time because of allegations of domestic violence, those temporary orders usually remain in effect until there is a final result on the domestic violence allegations.

What we wrote about the emergency temporary orders sometimes happens after a temporary restraining order. However, because domestic violence restraining orders move faster than divorce or parentage cases do (there are exceptions to this), we typically do not see modification of temporary orders or multiple temporary orders until the court makes the final decision on the domestic violence allegations.

The one exception is when there are allegations of child abuse as part of the domestic violence allegations, and in those situations, the restraining order case may go on for many months, depending on the nature and extent of the allegations and whether there is a social services or criminal investigation ongoing.

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