Law & Legal & Attorney Children Law

Differences Between a Custody Hearing & a Custody Trial

    Temporary Custody Hearings

    • Temporary custody hearings are formal hearings that typically occur at the onset of a divorce or separation of the parents. Temporary custody hearings are not meant to establish permanent custody but instead are used to establish which parent or caregiver the child will reside with until permanent a custody order can be determined. Temporary custody hearings are also used to determine who will maintain custody of the child until permanent custody is established after the death or imprisonment of a parent or after an allegation of child abuse or neglect has been made against the child's parent or legal guardian.

    Permanent Custody Hearings

    • Permanent custody hearings are formal hearings held in a court of law to issue an order for permanent custody of a minor child. Permanent custody hearings are typically held after a series of formal hearings have already taken place in which information was presented before the court and used to by the court to make a determination as what is in the best interest of the child. Once an order is issued, it can only be revoked or modified by the issuing court or appropriate court of jurisdiction.

    Change of Custody Hearings

    • A change of custody hearing is a formal hearing held before the court for the purpose of hearing evidence to determine whether or not an original custody order should be modified. Change of custody hearings may occur for a variety of reasons including the return of the child to a parent who temporarily lost custody until a court-mandated drug or counseling program is completed or in instances where the custodial parent voluntarily surrenders custody of the minor child to the non-custodial parent.

    Custody Trials

    • Custody trials are similar to custody hearings in the sense that both are conducted for the purpose of determining custody based on the best interest of the child. Custody hearings are generally shorter in term and are conducted for the purpose of issuing a specific legal determination. A custody trial, however, is typically a lengthier process in which evidence is presented and testimony is given to assist the court in determining what is in the child's best interests.

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