Once a child custody claim is filed by one of the parties, and the parties have attended (or waived) the mandatory custody mediation to try to enter into a parenting agreement and have been unsuccessful at coming to an agreement, the next step would be the temporary child custody hearing. Occasionally, the temporary child custody hearing may be scheduled before the parties are able to complete the mediation process but generally this hearing is after mediation.
This temporary custody hearing is a time-limited hearing. In Wake County, North Carolina, this is a two hour hearing (with each party getting one hour to present his/her case) in which the court will make an initial determination of child custody. The purpose is to establish a child custody arrangement quickly for the stability of the family and a permanent (and longer) hearing to get through all of the issues may be had at a later date. However, it is important to take the temporary hearing very seriously since a judge may be less likely to change his or her ruling by presenting the same evidence at a permanent custody hearing and this arrangement will be what is in place until a permanent hearing can be scheduled.
While this temporary child custody hearing is not prejudicial against either party, it is very important to present key evidence to support the child custody arrangement that you believe is in the best interest of the child(ren) at this initial temporary child custody hearing since it could be months or even a year or more before your permanent child custody hearing is scheduled. Also, a temporary child custody order, at the discretion of the court, may become a permanent child custody order if the parties fail to pursue the permanent custody determination within a reasonable period of time.