How to Obtain a Temporary Custody Order Without Going to Court

When it comes to child custody matters, going to court can be lengthy and costly. Fortunately, alternative options are available for parents who wish to obtain a temporary custody order without going through the court system. 

In this article, we will explore various methods and strategies to help you navigate the process of obtaining a temporary custody order without needing court intervention. 

Whether you are going through a divorce or facing a temporary separation, these alternatives can provide a more efficient and less adversarial approach to securing custody of your child.

Temporary Custody Orders: A Brief Overview

A temporary custody order is a legal arrangement that determines the temporary custody and visitation rights of parents during the pendency of a divorce. It establishes a framework for the care and support of the child until a final custody agreement or court order is reached.

Alternatives to Court for Obtaining a Temporary Custody Order

1. Mediation: A Cooperative Approach

Mediation is an excellent alternative to court for obtaining a temporary custody order. It involves both parents working together with the help of a neutral third-party mediator to reach an agreement on custody and visitation arrangements. 

Mediation promotes open communication and cooperation between the parents, allowing them to craft a temporary custody plan that meets the child’s best interests.

During the mediation process, the mediator facilitates discussions and helps the parents explore various options. They assist in identifying common ground, resolving conflicts, and drafting a temporary custody agreement. 

Tim’s Legal Tip: Mediation is often more cost-effective and less time-consuming compared to going through the court system.

2. Online Custody Services: Convenience at Your Fingertips

In the digital age, online custody services have become a convenient option for obtaining a temporary custody order without stepping into a courtroom. 

These services provide user-friendly platforms that guide parents through the process of creating a temporary custody agreement. They offer templates, prompts, and legal information to ensure that all necessary elements are addressed.

3. Using Legal Document Preparers: Simplifying the Process

Legal document preparers, also known as legal document assistants or paralegals, can assist parents in preparing the necessary legal documents for a temporary custody order. 

They can provide guidance on completing the required forms accurately and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

By engaging the services of a legal document preparer, parents can simplify the administrative aspects of obtaining a temporary custody order without the need for an attorney. 

Tim’s Legal Tip: It is important to note that legal document preparers cannot provide legal advice or represent you in court.

Online custody services can save time and money while allowing parents to create a comprehensive temporary custody order. It’s important to choose reputable and secure platforms that prioritize the confidentiality and security of your information.

4. Collaborative Law: Finding Solutions Together

Collaborative law is another alternative to court that focuses on cooperative problem-solving and negotiation. 

In this approach, parents and their respective attorneys commit to working together to find mutually beneficial solutions. Collaborative law encourages transparency, respect, and creative thinking to address the needs and interests of the child.

Through a series of meetings and discussions, the parents and their attorneys explore various custody arrangements and develop a temporary custody order that reflects their agreement. 

Collaborative law offers a less adversarial environment and allows parents to maintain control over the decision-making process.

5. Parenting Coordinator: Facilitating Cooperation

A parenting coordinator is a trained professional who helps parents resolve disputes and decide on child custody. 

While not available in all jurisdictions, a parenting coordinator can be a valuable resource for parents seeking a temporary custody order without going to court.

The role of a parenting coordinator is to facilitate communication, assist in problem-solving, and help parents develop a temporary custody plan. 

They act as a neutral third party, guiding parents towards cooperative decision-making and reducing conflicts. Utilizing a parenting coordinator can be an effective way to navigate the complexities of custody arrangements and avoid court intervention.

6. Arbitration: Reaching a Binding Decision

Arbitration is another alternative to obtaining a temporary custody order without going to court. 

In this process, an arbitrator, who acts as a private judge, reviews the evidence and arguments presented by both parties and makes a binding decision. Arbitration offers a more streamlined and private approach compared to traditional litigation.

While arbitration may involve some costs, it can often be more efficient and less time-consuming than going to court. It allows parents to present their case in a less formal setting, with the flexibility to choose the arbitrator and schedule the proceedings at their convenience.

How to Obtain a Temporary Custody Order Without Going to Court?

Now that we have explored alternative approaches to obtaining a temporary custody order let’s delve into the steps involved in utilizing these methods.

1. Research the Options

Start by researching the alternative methods available in your jurisdiction. Look for mediators, collaborative law practitioners, or parenting coordinators specializing in family law matters. 

Seek recommendations from trusted sources or consult with your attorney to find professionals to assist you.

2. Assess Your Situation

Evaluate your unique situation and determine whether the alternative methods suit your circumstances. 

Consider factors such as the level of cooperation between you and the other parent, the complexity of the custody issues, and the overall well-being of your child. Discuss your concerns and objectives with the chosen professional to better understand how they can assist you.

3. Initiate the Process

Once you have chosen the most appropriate alternative method, contact the professional and initiate the process. 

Schedule an initial consultation or mediation session to begin the discussions and lay the groundwork for the temporary custody order. 

Be prepared to provide relevant information and documentation, such as previous custody agreements, parenting plans, and court orders or pending cases.

4. Negotiate

Throughout the alternative process, maintain an open and cooperative mindset. Engage in productive discussions with the other parent and work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions. 

Focus on the best interests of your child and be willing to compromise on certain aspects to reach a temporary custody agreement.

5. Draft and Finalize the Order

Once you and the other parent have reached an agreement, the chosen professional will help you draft a temporary custody order. 

This document will outline the specifics of the custody arrangement, visitation schedule, decision-making authority, and any other relevant provisions. 

Review the order carefully and ensure that it accurately reflects your agreement. Once finalized, the order will be legally binding and enforceable.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Can I modify a temporary custody order obtained without going to court?

Yes, you can modify a temporary custody order obtained through alternative methods. If circumstances change or the existing order no longer serves the best interests of the child, you can seek a modification through mediation, collaborative law, or with the assistance of a parenting coordinator. 

Q. Will a temporary custody order obtained without going to court be legally enforceable?

A temporary custody order obtained through alternative methods can be legally enforceable. As long as both parents willingly enter into the agreement and the order complies with the laws of your jurisdiction, it holds the same legal weight as a court-issued order. 

Q. What happens if the other parent violates the temporary custody order?

If the other parent violates the terms of the temporary custody order, you have legal recourse to enforce the order. Consult with your attorney and gather evidence of the violations, such as missed visitations or failure to adhere to the agreed-upon schedule. 

Your attorney can help you file a motion with the court to enforce the order and potentially seek sanctions against the non-compliant parent.

Q. Can I switch from an alternative temporary custody order to a court-issued order later?

Yes, it is possible to switch from an alternative temporary custody order to a court-issued order at a later stage. 

If circumstances change or you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement through alternative methods, you can petition the court for a formal custody hearing. 

The court will review your case, consider the best interests of the child, and issue a final custody order based on the evidence and arguments presented.


Navigating the process of obtaining a temporary custody order without going to court can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By exploring alternative methods such as collaborative parenting agreements, mediation, arbitration, online custody services, and using legal document preparers, parents can find solutions that prioritize their child’s best interests while minimizing the stress and expense associated with traditional litigation.

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Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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