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How to Get an Emergency Custody Order Tips

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order Tips

Few experiences are more stressful than believing your child is in danger and having limited means of protecting them. For example, maybe you’re in the process of divorcing or separating from a child’s other parent. Maybe that parent currently has the child, who you believe is in danger in their presence.

You may file an emergency custody order request with the court in these circumstances. Doing so allows you to address urgent safety issues while you work towards a long-term custody arrangement.

What Qualifies as Emergency Custody?

Emergency custody involves one parent or another interested party taking temporary custody of a child. This may occur during ongoing divorce proceedings or similar proceedings.

Emergency custody is necessary when there’s reason to believe a child is in danger in the conditions where they live. Granting emergency custody is a means of protecting the child until the court can arrive at a more permanent resolution.

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order

In New Jersey, the filing forms are different depending on whether the parent files under the Dissolution docket (which applies if they are seeking or sought a divorce), the Non-dissolution docket (which applies if the filing person has never been married to the other parent), or through the Domestic Violence docket (which applies if the filer or their child has been or is the victim of abuse). They will have to file a petition for a hearing and an Emergent Hearing (Order to Show Cause) form.

A parent may submit the completed forms in one of the following ways:

There is no initial filing fee. A parent may need to pay a $25 fee if they wish to modify a case.

What Happens After Emergency Custody is Granted in New Jersey?

A parent will typically go before a judge to present their argument shortly after submitting an emergency custody order. If the judge grants the order, the parent who filed the petition will receive temporary custody of the child. Law enforcement may need to get involved if the other parent refuses to comply with the order.

The parent who did not file the petition usually doesn’t get an opportunity to defend themselves when the petition is initially filed. They will have that opportunity during ongoing court proceedings. They may regain custody of the child in the future if they can show their child is not in danger with them.

The Risks of Asking for Emergency Custody

Some parents file petitions for emergency custody as a means of “getting back” at spouses and partners during divorces and separations. They may claim a child is in danger when they aren’t.

Don’t make this mistake. If the court finds you wasted its time and resources, requesting emergency custody could backfire in the long run.

Reasons to Request Emergency Custody

a couple holding a baby dealing with emergency custody

There are several circumstances that may warrant petitioning the court for emergency custody. Examples include:

  • A parent is a sex offender, drug dealer, drug user, or other sort of criminal who may endanger a child.
  • A parent associates with criminals or other types of figures who may endanger a child.
  • A parent has left the state with a child, ignored requests from the other parent to see the child, or otherwise behaved in a way indicating they may plan to illegally prevent the child from seeing their other parent.
  • A parent has started to behave erratically.

There’s no guarantee the court will grant your request. However, tips for improving your chances of successfully receiving emergency custody of your child include:

  • Consider involving Child Protective Services when necessary. Their involvement can help you show that an outside party agrees a child is currently at risk.
  • Gather evidence to support your claim. For example, if you believe a parent is abusing or neglecting a child, submit medical records indicating abuse or neglect has occurred.
  • Speak with witnesses who may back up your claims.
  • Save all correspondence with the other parent. It may serve as evidence.

Don’t delay when gathering evidence. Acting fast is important if your child is in danger.

Contact a New Jersey Child Custody Attorney

Requesting emergency custody may be easier if you have experienced legal representation. At The Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq., a New Jersey child custody lawyer can help you fight for your rights and the rights of your child. Learn more by calling us today at (732) 898-2378 for a confidential case review.

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