If you’re a dad going through divorce, you may wonder how long it’s going to take for you to get visitation with your kids. The answer: maybe sooner than you think.
Courts can set what are called temporary orders instructing parting spouses on how to handle important issues, like custody, during the course of the divorce.
This article touches on how you can get temporary custody orders and what your visitation timeline might look like if you don’t have this short-term order in place.
How to See Your Kids During Your Divorce
Cooperation is Quickest
The fastest way to nail down a temporary visitation schedule is to create it with your spouse. You can do this through an informal settlement conference or mediation.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, your next option is to file a motion for temporary orders.
NOTE ➤ Many judges will require you and your spouse to try mediation before they’ll grant you a temporary orders hearing. This, of course, excludes child safety and welfare emergencies.
Snapshot: Temporary Orders
Texas Family Code § 105.001 lets courts issue temporary orders before a judge gives the final orders.
Temporary orders can address issues like the conservatorship (custody) and possession (visitation) of your child. The court can even limit how far your child can be taken within a geographical area while your divorce is pending.
Temporary orders, however, are not meant to function as your final custody orders.
Let’s take a look at the timeline to get temporary orders and what that process entails.
How Soon Can I Request Temporary Orders?
If you and your spouse are at odds about who the kids will live with most of the time and when the other parent can have them for visits—or your spouse just won’t let you see your child—you should file a motion with the court for temporary orders immediately.
How Long Will Temporary Orders Take?
Generally, a temporary orders hearing is set within 14 days of your filing in most counties.
State law requires your child’s other parent to be notified of the filing and given an opportunity to present his or her side of things in court.
Now, if your child is in immediate danger of harm, the court can grant temporary orders without giving the other parent notice and a hearing.
Let’s take a look at an interesting case where the court’s decision to issue temporary orders backfired.
Texas Case: Court Issued Temporary Orders for Custody Without Parental Request
In a 2007 4th District Court of Appeals case, a father challenged a trial court’s temporary orders for conservatorship (aka custody) that limited him to weekend visits with his child.
The father argued the trial court abused its discretion when it issued the temporary orders without either party asking for them or giving the father notice and a hearing.
The appeals court agreed, and it ordered the trial judge to cancel the temporary order.
“[Mother] did not file and serve on [Father] any pleading asking the court to give her temporary custody. Plus, the trial court’s new temporary order was not prompted by any emergency,” the appeals court held.
“We conclude the trial court’s failure to provide [Father] notice prior to issuing a new temporary custody order was a clear abuse of discretion.”
In re Herring, 4th Court of Appeals, Jan. 31, 2007
Visitation Outlook if You Don’t Request Temporary Orders
In Texas, a divorce decree cannot be issued sooner than 60 days. So at the very minimum, you’re looking at 60 days before you can get your final orders, and that is the best-case scenario. In reality, the average wait time to get a trial date is 9 to 18 months, but it varies from court to court.
Other issues can cause your case to drag on for many months. For instance, will you need a custody evaluation? If your divorce is extremely contentious, the court may appoint your child a guardian ad litem. That’s a court-appointed attorney who looks out for a minor’s best interests.
Having some kind of provisional custody plan in place, whether it’s agreed upon at mediation or issued by the court, will ensure you get to continue to nurture the relationship you have with your children sooner.
What Happens if My Spouse Ignores the Temporary Custody Order?
Temporary or not, a court order should be taken very seriously.
Interfering with a temporary orders is grounds for being held in contempt of court or even being charged with a felony.
“A person commits an offense if the person takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age: when the person knows that the person’s taking or retention violates the express terms of a judgment or order, including a temporary order, of a court disposing of the child’s custody.” Tex. Pen. Code § 25.03 (a)(1)
We Help Fathers See Their Children During Divorce
The relationship you have with your child should not suffer because you and their mother are divorcing. Our assertive and compassionate family law attorneys will go to bat for you and your kiddo. Call 214-884-3775 to begin your free case assessment.