Temporary legal custody of children is most often awarded in divorce court to one of the child's parents, Lawyers.com explains. This order is effective until the Court rules on permanent custody. Guardianship is awarded to non-parental parties under special circumstances, notes LegalMatch.
Guardianship for children is awarded because both parents are unable to care for their child, LegalMatch explains. Typical reasons for this include death and incapacitation, though there can be many reasons that the courts award child guardianship. Guardianship can be temporary, such as when a parent is recovering from a severe illness or injury, or permanent, such as when the parents are deceased or incompetent to have legal custody on a permanent basis. Permanent guardianship is similar to adoption.
Temporary child-custody orders serve two purposes: to provide stability for the child during the long divorce process and to prevent one parent from moving the child away from the other, Lawyers.com explains. If no temporary custody order is in place, either parent is essentially free to take the child. A temporary custody order is requested in the divorce petition. Judges generally rule on temporary custody based on their view of the child's best interest. Being granted temporary custody does not automatically mean permanent custody is forthcoming. Permanent custody is settled during a different hearing in which the parent's ability to provide a safe and secure environment for the child is a primary factor.