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Filing for Emergency Custody or an Order of Protection

When Should You Take The Steps To File?

Parents love their children and want to make sure that they are safe and happy. However, this is not always possible. The world can be a rather bleak place, and that darkness often tends to affect children the most. They are not always able to extricate themselves from bad situations, especially when it comes to their parents. In the case of divorce, parents who are concerned about the safety of their little ones who are with the other parent have rights. In some cases, filing for emergency custody may be an option. First, though, it’s important to get a better idea of what this type of custody means.

What Are Emergency Custody Orders?

A parent that is sharing custody with another parent, or who will be sharing custody soon, has the right to file an emergency custody order in cases where it is warranted. Filing for emergency custody should be used in instances when there is a real and present danger to the child. This would include immediate physical harm or emotional abuse that is so severe it could affect the child for the rest of their lives. The parent should not file for emergency custody when they have disagreements with their former partners or to attempt to hurt the other parent for reasons that have nothing to do with the child’s safety.

You are required to establish that if there isn’t an emergency custody order granted, it would cause an imminent risk of serious physical, psychological, or emotional harm to the child. Physical harm tends to be easy to see and understand. It could manifest in bruises and other injuries, and it indicates that the child is not safe in the custody of that parent.

If a child threatens to commit suicide when they are with one parent, it could be due to the emotional harm they are suffering. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the child that is threatening self-harm. If the parent or another person in that household is expressing a desire to commit suicide, it can have an impact on the child that witnesses the behavior.

Psychological harm is not as common, but it can occur. Instances where a child is in a home where there is verbal or physical abuse to others, not necessarily the child, could inflict psychological damage. There are similarities between psychological and emotional harm.

Parents may have a former partner on medication for psychological issues. In these cases, if they discover and can prove that their partner is not taking medication or getting treatment, they could consider filing for emergency custody if their child is in danger physically, emotionally, or psychologically.

Alleging drug or alcohol use is not enough to get emergency custody. There needs to be proof that the child is in a dangerous environment or that their parent is neglecting them or could harm them. It can sometimes be difficult to know what does and does not constitute an emergency. Whenever there is suspicious or suspected dangerous behavior, it’s a good idea to report it if there is a risk to your child.

It Can Be Difficult to Know When Emergency Custody Will Be Granted

Because there are so many facets to this area of the law, and because different judges may view certain things differently, it can be hard to know when emergency custody will be granted. Typically, in the most severe cases, judges will grant emergency custody when it is requested. However, when things are not as clear-cut, they may not. Many attorneys are just as surprised when they get this order as when their clients are denied.

One of the reasons for this is because it is filed without notice. The parent is asking the court to temporarily take away parenting rights and time from the other parent who is not able to defend themselves. The court wants to do what’s best for the children, but they do not want to take away parenting rights unless they have convincing evidence. The judge needs to believe that if they don’t grant the order the child will be imminently, seriously harmed because of it. This can be difficult to prove.

However, even if the emergency custody is not granted, they will be able to have a contested hearing within 15 days, where you can present your evidence. The other party will have a chance to be heard at that time, as well. Therefore, it tends to be a good idea to file for emergency custody even though you might not be sure you will get it. Many will also want to file for a permanent modification to the custody at the same time, as well.

Filing for emergency custody can also help to make sure your child is safe even when it isn’t granted. The other party will be made aware of what’s happening with the case, and it can have a positive impact on the environment where your child is staying when they are with that parent.

Order of Protection

An order of protection can’t be filed on behalf of someone else. However, parents can file orders of protection for themselves and have their children included. These are filed when you believe that you would be subject to immediate physical harm or harassment. These tend to have a higher probability of being upheld. Clients will prepare these themselves and submit them to the superior court. There can usually be a hearing with the judge the same day without the other party being present.

Get Help from an Attorney

If you believe that your child is in imminent danger, you need to act as soon as possible and file for emergency custody. Take the time to speak with a family law attorney and let them know what’s happening with your child. They can help to guide you through the process of filing, let you know who, how, and where to file, etc. In some cases, they may be able to file for you. Each case will be different, so you need an attorney that is well-versed in these sorts of family law issues.

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