What Is Emergency Child Custody?

In volatile domestic situations, emergency child custody orders may be necessary. As a parent, if you believe your child may be in danger, filing for emergency custody can be a viable solution in a time-sensitive situation. Learn more about how to file for emergency custody when you contact the Orange County divorce attorney at Boyd Law. 

What Is Emergency Child Custody?

If a relationship ends badly, it could trigger negligent or violent parenting behaviors toward children who are caught in the middle. Examples can include physical aggression, violence, abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, threats and child neglect. In other cases, a parent may turn to substance abuse while trying to cope with the divorce or threaten to take the child and never return. These actions could put a child’s health and welfare in jeopardy.

Emergency child custody is a temporary order granted by the courts to give a parent immediate custody or visitation with a child who is in a potentially dangerous situation. The family courts in California may grant an emergency custody or visitation request that is made by a parent if there is evidence that the child could be at risk. This type of court intervention is also known as an ex parte order, or a temporary order issued in an emergency to protect a child from immediate harm.

After an emergency child custody order is granted by the courts, a full hearing will be scheduled to determine whether the terms of an existing child custody agreement need to be altered. If the allegedly abusive or threatening parent currently has primary or shared custody of the child, for example, this may need to be modified to give the other parent or a different family member custody or visitation rights with the child instead. The courts will make this decision based on what is in the child’s best interest.

What Are the Criteria for Emergency Custody in California?

The directions and documents required for filing a request for emergency child custody are determined by state lawmakers. According to Rule 5.151 of the California Rules of Court, the following must be included in an application for emergency custody orders:

  • Documents: a written request for order (form FL-300); relevant income and property declarations; Temporary Emergency Orders (form FL-305); Declaration Regarding Notice and Service of Request for Temporary Emergency Orders (form FL-303); and a request to schedule a hearing.
  • Written declarations of fact: written facts within the personal knowledge of the declarant that demonstrate why emergency child custody is necessary as opposed to a standard child custody court hearing. An affirmative factual showing of “irreparable harm, immediate danger or any other statutory basis” for a change in custody without notice to the other party is required.
  • Description of recent incidents: any application for an emergency order regarding child custody or visitation must provide full, detailed descriptions of recent incidents showing immediate harm to the child (as defined in Family Code Section 3064[b]) or immediate risk that the child will be taken from the State of California.

An ex parte custody request also requires a copy of the current custody orders, if available. Finally, it should advise the court of how existing orders would be changed by the temporary custody request. These are not the only documents and details required for an emergency custody request to succeed. Contact an Orange County child custody attorney at Boyd Law to help you meet all of the requirements.