When someone wins custody of a child, does the child come to the courthouse to be taken by whoever is awarded custody or do they go to the home of the child to take them? How does this usually go?
Thank you for asking this question. It is a basic question that many parents have and yet very few are willing to ask for fear of looking ignorant. Questions and asked our questions unanswered, and you’ve asked a very basic but very important question that deserves to be answered clearly and fully.
- A court can issue an order that the parties meet at the courthouse with the child and physically transfer custody of the child from one party to the next at the courthouse.
- Rarely is it necessary for a court to issue an order that the parties meet at the courthouse with the child and physically transfer custody of the child from one party to the next. For example, if there is a dispute between two opposing parties (Party A vs. Party B) over custody of a child, and if the child is already in the custody of Party A when the court awards custody, then there will be no need for an order directing one party to turn the child over to the other party.
- In most child custody cases long before the child custody award is made, a temporary order (or order pendente lite) has been issued by the court awarding custody to one of the parties. After all, the child needs to be cared for and have a place to live while the litigation is pending, which is why these temporary custody orders are made. So if the party to whom temporary custody was awarded wins permanent custody, there will be no need for any kind of transfer of custody of the child from one party to the other.
But if the party who was awarded temporary custody of the child is not awarded permanent custody of the child after the trial, usually what happens is the losing party will comply with the court’s order to turn custody over of the child to the prevailing party. Fortunately, in most custody disputes, the losing party is gracious in defeat and — even though perhaps heartbroken or bitterly angry over the outcome — will comply voluntarily with the court orders and in turn the child over to the prevailing party without incident. The way that works is the court may (and often will):
- order the losing party (in whose physical custody of the child was before trial) to have the child ready for the prevailing party to pick up the child at the losing party’s house at a set date and time.
- order the losing party to bring the child to the prevailing party’s house at a set date and time.
- order that the child be brought to a third party’s home (a relative or mutual family friend) or workplace (often a social worker) to spare the losing party from breaking down in grief or anger in front of the child or to help generally ease the transition from the losing party to the prevailing party.
If the court is concerned that a verbal and/or physical altercation might arise if custody is exchanged at the losing party’s house or if the losing party were ordered to bring the child to the prevailing party’s house, the court may order the parties to exchange custody of the child at a police station, so that the police can keep the peace and make an arrest if either or both parties become unruly.
If the court is concerned that the losing party might try to abscond with the child before the prevailing party can take custody of the child, then the court may order the police or the deputy sheriff to accompany the losing party to the losing party’s home to ensure that the child is not kidnapped or concealed or absconded with before the prevailing party can take custody of the child.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277