Help, my child is in danger. How can I get an emergency modification of custody?

There is nothing worse than sending your child into an environment where you think they may be, or you know, they are in danger. If this is the case, you may qualify to get temporary emergency custody.

In order to file, you must first have evidence that your child is in danger of serious, immediate bodily harm or the health, safety, and welfare of your child is in serious and immediate jeopardy. You need to give specific examples of what the emergency is, and why the situation is so serious that it warrants taking away someone’s child without giving him or her a chance to respond. In my experience, evidence of abuse, drug use, serious neglect, or the presence of dangerous people (known felons, child abusers, etc) is all great reasons to ask for a temporary emergency change.

The other requirement for an emergency modification is that a custody order must already exist and you have already filed, or your will contemporaneously file, an underlying request for a modification. This is sometimes really frustrating. I have a client who’s ex recently, and temporarily, moved into a dangerous environment. She doesn’t want a permanent change in time, she just wants his visits temporarily suspended until he gets back into a safe environment. While I am tempted to simply file for the temporary emergency custody, the statutes require we ask for an underlying modification.

Strategically, you must decide if you think filing for the emergency hearing is in your best interest. If it is rejected, this can backfire later down the road. Although, most of the time, if the case is borderline, and the Judge doesn’t grant the order immediately, he or she will set an expedited hearing within the next week or so. Take advantage of our consultations and discuss the specific situation with us. Since this is a judgment call, take advantage of our experience and let us know if you have any questions.