What is an Emergency Custody Order

We often get asked if parents can file for “emergency custody” of their children. Naturally, divorce and separation cases can take months or years to resolve. This is especially true of emergency custody order cases. Naturally, some parents may want to “speed up” the time it takes to gain custody of their children. When a child is in “imminent danger” from a parent, the other parent can file to prevent contact between the child(ren) and the parent in question.

However, as many parents have a different idea of what counts as an emergency, there is a need to clarify. A parent’s idea of an emergency might not align with the court’s idea of an emergency. This discrepancy exists for a variety of reasons. However, one reason is that emergency motions can deprive parents of due process – Which is their right to present their side to a judge. Parents should note that they don’t “get” their child right away in an emergency motion.

These motions lead first to a hearing and may involve a dependency case. Situations where a child is in a true emergency, are very rare. A child suffering physical harm or at risk of being improperly removed from Florida presents such an emergency. Let’s cover these two subjects briefly.

What is Physical Harm in Florida?

Sometimes parents may see marks from a spanking or other form of corporal punishment. In Florida, these actions are legal. For an emergency order to credibly cite physical harm, it must be more serious. Signs of excessive force, closed fist strikes, kicking, and so on may constitute more serious physical harm. These are allegations that, if proven, present an emergency.

What is Improper Removal from Florida?

Before a divorce is filed, both parents have equal rights to the child. During this time, either parent can leave the state with the child legally. The divorce petition changes things. After this point, neither parent can legally remove the child from Florida. If a parent grants permission, this does not apply, but this won’t happen in most cases—a married person leaving Florida before the divorce petition doesn’t constitute a divorce. However, a parent purchasing plane tickets after a divorce or succeeding in moving the child to another state may present an emergency.

What About Unmarried Couples When Dealing With A Emergency Custody Order?

If a couple is not married, the mother has sole parental propriety, responsibility, and timesharing rights. These rights exist until the biological father files a petition to receive the same rights and responsibilities.

Until the biological father files this petition, the mother holds all custody rights. This means she can move the child out of state, not presenting an emergency situation. This is true even if the father is paying child support. However, if the father files this petition for parental responsibility, the mother can no longer move the child out of state. Neither party can move out of state in this case without permission or court order. It could be an emergency if either party tries to leave the state with the child after a petition for timesharing and responsibility.

Don’t hesitate if you suspect your divorce presents an emergency risk to your child, don’t hesitate. Call the experienced family law professionals at Thompson Law today.