When Are Emergency Custody Orders Necessary?


When parents divorce, they may question the other parent’s capacity to keep their children safe. When a parent has a legitimate reason to dear that their child is at immediate risk of harm, they can file an emergency custody order to place the child in the petitioning parent’s custody or someone else’s custody until it has been deemed safe to lift the order. Please continue reading to learn when an emergency custody order may be necessary to ensure a child’s welfare and how a compassionate Pensacola Child Custody Lawyer can help you today.

What is an Emergency Custody Order?

When a parent is concerned for their child’s safety, they can request a modification to their existing custody agreement. When you fear that the other parent will cause irreparable harm to your child, the court can provide an emergency custody order, which is a temporary order that changes a parenting time arrangement to protect a child against abuse, imminent physical danger, or potentially being removed from the state. Essentially, this order asks the court to intervene to remove a child from harm’s way.

What Are the Grounds For Emergency Custody?

Emergency custody is only warranted when there are grounds for it and a parent can prove the grounds. The court typically tries to preserve the parent-child relationship as they believe it’s in a child’s best interest to have a regular and ongoing relationship with both parents. Therefore, the burden to prove an imminent threat of danger is high. The possible grounds for getting an emergency order include:

  • The parent has physically, sexually, or mentally abused the child
  • Someone else living with the parent has physically, sexually, or mentally abused the child
  • The parent has neglected or abandoned the child
  • The other parent is interfering with visitation
  • Parental alienation
  • The child has been taken to, or there is a real threat that the other parent will take them to another state or country without the permission of the other parent or court (parental kidnapping)
  • The other parent is in police custody or has been incarcerated
  • The living situation of the parent is no longer a safe environment for the child
  • The parent abuses chemical substances, and the child has been exposed to the effects of the substance abuse or mental health issues
  • The other parent refuses to comply with the terms of your custody agreement, and you firmly believe the child is in danger

Depending on the circumstances, an emergency hearing will be set after filing the forms for emergency custody. A judge will examine all of the facts of the case to determine if a temporary custody order should be issued. The child will be removed from the potentially dangerous situation during this time.

If you legitimately fear for your child, it’s in your best interest to contact a trusted lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can help fight to protect your child’s well-being. Our legal team is prepared to help you request an emergency modification of an existing custody or visitation order.