What is Emergency Custody

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Emergency custody is when a judge steps in to make a ruling on who should have custody of a child in a situation that requires immediate action to maintain the safety and well-being of a child. Emergency custody is granted as a result of a serious, unexpected, or dangerous event that happens with a parent.

What types of situations qualify as an emergency?

The types of situations that qualify as an emergency may vary depending on state law, but in general, they include:
  • Child endangerment due to substance abuse by a parent or guardian
  • Abandonment or neglect of a child
  • Allegations or reasonable suspicions of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Suspicions that a parent may try to kidnap a child

Who can file for emergency custody?

Any legal parent, relative, or guardian of a child can file for emergency custody if an emergency exists that may endanger a child. The adult will file a petition with the court to request a hearing, and then he or she will go in front of the judge to present the evidence.

What type of proof is required?

When filing for emergency custody, it is necessary to have strong evidence to support the claim that the child is in immediate danger. Evidence can include:
  • Police reports
  • Social worker reports
  • School records
  • Court records
  • Affidavits from parties or witnesses to neglect or abuse
  • Photos or text messages

Next Steps After Filing

After presenting the evidence, the judge will determine whether to grant an emergency custody order. 
If an emergency custody order is granted, it will only be in effect for a temporary period. Both the plaintiff and the parent in question will attend a full trial to determine a long-term outcome.

At this trial, the person who began the proceedings will once again present the evidence they have that show current custody arrangements are not in the child’s best interest. The parent will present evidence to show that the original allegations were false or that a previous problem has been resolved. For example, a parent accused of drug abuse may present evidence that he or she has attended a drug treatment program or taken negative drug tests.

Emergency custody is a rare occurrence. It is vital to speak with an experienced family law attorney about options in court if a child is in danger.

Using a co-parenting service such as Talking Parents can be a way for co-parents to communicate through unalterable messages. In the extreme event of emergency custody cases. These records can be used in court to demonstrate concerns about the actions or words of another parent.

TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.

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