By Alicia Hutchinson, Esq.
I spent 5th grade living with my grandparents when my Dad’s Air Force Base was closed midway through the school year. Otherwise, I would’ve changed schools three times that year or (miss several months of school entirely.) Nobody thought that wise, and my grandparents were kind enough to have me stay with them for an entire school year.
This kind of situation isn’t uncommon (and it’s certainly not just Military families.) Sometimes the reasons for moving are tragic and sometimes it’s for happier reasons. Either way, even many parents sometimes realize that someone else may need to take care of their kids for a time.
What should you be aware of when having your child stay with someone else?
We often suggest that the parties consider filing a temporary custody order by consent. This does require filing with the court and should be carefully worded so that the intent of the parties is clear (you don’t want to accidentally give up more than you mean to!)
Why would you want to consider a temporary custody agreement? For starters, it can be very challenging to register a child for school without a custody order. Sometimes even if you can register the child the school will refuse to talk to the temporary guardian without some kind of court order. You also risk the temporary caretaker being unable to make medical decisions in an emergency, as doctors will frequently refuse to discuss a child’s condition with a non-parent, or approve a course of treatment, without some kind of order in place.
Who needs to be consulted about this kind of arrangement? Usually, these are the child’s biological parents but it can be other people, too. When biological parents make the decision to temporarily let their child live with someone else, this is simple. It can get more complex when the biological parents aren’t together anymore and may not even be in touch. Resolving that kind of situation may require filing a motion before the Court, rather than simply entering a consent order with the Court.
We specialize in Family Law, including custody matters such as these. DON’T GO IT ALONE! Call 856-227-7888 for a free consolation to discuss your legal options. We serve all South Jersey (and, yes, we’re on Facebook.)