Emergency Child Custody
By Henry F. Lewis on August 24, 2021
When parents divorce they must come to an agreement regarding child custody and/or visitation. Whether parents create their own child custody agreement or one is ordered by the court, it is legally binding once it is signed by a judge. However, there are circumstances in which a child custody modification can be granted. Unfortunately, this can take some time - often months.
If a child is in a situation that puts their health or welfare in danger their parent should consider seeking emergency child custody. Family law attorneys at Gardner & Lewis, LLP can assist individuals in the Oakland, CA-area with exploring their right to emergency custody and filing the petition necessary to get their child out of danger.
Grounds for Emergency Child Custody
California family law dictates that parents have the right to seek an emergency change in custody on a temporary basis without waiting for a full hearing. However, this request, which is known as an ex parte order, will only be heard under certain circumstances. To qualify for emergency custody, the child must be in a situation that endangers their health or welfare. Situations that could warrant emergency custody include:
- Allegations of abuse or neglect
- Allegations of sexual abuse
- A parent’s arrest for drug use or another serious crime
- Allegations that the other parent has a mental or physical illness that endangers the child
- Indications that there is domestic violence in the other parent’s household
- Indications that a sex offender is residing in the other parent’s home
Proving the Need for Emergency Child Custody
An emergency child custody issue will not be granted just because one parent makes accusations about the other. If a petition is filed with the court the parent needs to prove that their request is justified. Our attorneys work with our Oakland clients to gather the evidence necessary to warrant an emergency custody order. Potential sources of evidence include:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Reports from Child Protective Services
- Witnesses who have personally seen evidence of the accusations
- Photos or video
- Emails, texts, or other communication with the other parent
What to Expect at Court
During an emergency custody hearing the parent who filed the request is given the opportunity to prove that their allegations are valid, and that their child faces immediate danger if an emergency order is not granted. It is important to note that the judge will only hear testimony or evidence that is relevant to the emergency situation; this is not the time to sort out other custody issues.
After hearing evidence the court will decide if it agrees with the request. If the court agrees with the request, the judge can issue a temporary emergency custody order. The emergency order may hold up all or some of the requests in the initial application. The court is also likely to appoint a guardian ad litem to further investigate the case following the hearing.
How Long Do Emergency Child Custody Orders Last?
Emergency custody orders do not last indefinitely; they are a temporary solution. Emergency custody orders only stay in effect until the next court date is scheduled, which should be within 20 days. At that hearing the court will listen to further evidence and reevaluate the situation. Based on what they find, they may choose to terminate the emergency custody order, extend it, or make modifications to the child custody agreement.
Schedule a Consultation
If you believe that you have grounds to file for emergency child custody it is important to act quickly. To discuss your situation with the family law attorneys at Gardner & Lewis, LLP, send us a message online or call our Oakland law firm at (510) 451-4822 and schedule a consultation.
Related to This
“The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance.” Henry F. Lewis