Don’t forget to ask for a “stay” if things don’t turn out right
Let’s say that you have a bad day in court. The judge simply doesn’t see things your way. At the end of the proceeding, the judge has taken away some of your time with the children and — in your opinion — made a decision that is contrary to the children’s best interests.
One thing you can do is to request a “stay” of execution of the court order until some other event occurs. A stay basically “freezes” the court order so that it does not take effect for a limited period of time. For example, if you believe a doctor’s report, not yet released, will prompt the judge to change her opinion, you might request a stay for 30 days pending the court’s review of the medical report. Or perhaps you fear that the court’s change in parenting time will disrupt the child’s school schedule. You can then request a stay of the court order — basically a “freeze” on the order — until the school year finishes. Maybe you wish to file an appeal. You can ask the court to stay its decision for 30 days pending the filing of a notice of appeal. A judge may grant your stay, which gives you some additional time to take legal action before the new custody order takes effect. Or the judge may deny your stay, which means that you have a right to seek a stay from a higher court.
If the court grants your request for a stay, you should proceed efficiently to take whatever steps you need to take. If you told the judge that a stay should be granted so that she could review a medical report that will be forthcoming, then make sure that you communicate promptly with the doctor, obtain the report, and provide it to the court and to the other parent. If a stay expires before the report is produced and reviewed, you’ll be back at square one.
Asking for a “stay” is also sometimes a way to save the day and protect your children, at the last moment, when things have not gone so well in court. A stay gives you more time to re-group, re-think, and re-strategize what to do next — before the adverse ruling takes effect.