.The ultimate goal of nearly every parent is to protect their child from harm. Emergency child custody exists to serve that purpose. Custody concerns are common, yet it is typical for worried parents to have no clue that emergency custody is possible. Read on to learn all about emergency child custody.

What Is Emergency Child Custody?

Emergency custody protects those who are most vulnerable in a custody situation. Courts issues custody orders to protect children in any number of situations.

  • Parental neglect, abandonment, or abuse. This applies when one or both parents commit the infraction. Unfortunately, it is particularly common that the abuse stems from stepparents or a newer partner. If one co-parent fears for the safety of their child because of their ex-spouse’s partner, emergency custody is an option.
  • Parental kidnapping, which can happen a few ways. A parent can refuse to comply with the custody agreement. They may also leave the vicinity with the child in tow and leave no information for their co-parent.
  • Incapacity or death of both parents. This situation only occurs if the parents have not created a last will and testament. The problem with no appointed guardian happens most often when the parents are young, or the death is unexpected.
  • Suspicion that the parent who currently has custody is using illegal substances that put the child in harm’s way. Abusing drugs – prescription or otherwise – or alcohol are common problems in Florida’s family courts. Ingesting substances in the presence of a minor or making those substances available to a minor is cause enough. Another cause for emergency child custody is driving under the influence of a substance with the minor in the car.

Any of these actions, or the threat of these actions can lead to an emergency custody suit. Emergency custody is a short-term solution. Everyone involved goes through the emergency custody before a trial. Once the emergency custody hearing is completed, then a suit can be filed for an injunction or change of custody.

What Happens At An Emergency Hearing?

Emergency custody hearings are not like a general custody hearing would go. They are often much less drawn out, due to the immediacy of an emergency. The goal is to prove that there is a true emergency. This emergency must, a, put the child in immediate danger, or b, show the accused parent to be dangerous. There is a variety of acceptable evidence.

  • Police reports
  • Reports from child protective services
  • Medical records for the child, the accused parent, or the parent who filed the petition
  • Testimony from witnesses, including mandatory reporters, such as teachers

However, every case is unique. A judge may order a psychological evaluation of the child and/or the accused parent.

The results of an emergency hearing are considered a temporary order. They are issued in order to protect a child pending a full trial. The temporary order can transfer custody, or demand the completion of a program. The program may be a parenting class, anger management class, or a program to treat addiction. Florida courts typically do not want to remove parents from a child’s life completely. Judges rarely issue a permanent injunction.