Helping Families Take The Next Step Toward A New Beginning

When should I file an emergency custody petition?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Child Custody

Co-parenting with a former spouse or partner in North Carolina can be rather challenging, even if you have a custody arrangement in place. It is often difficult for parents to trust that their child is being taken care of properly while with the other parent.

While concerns for safety and well-being are relatively common when a child is with the other parent, there may be a time when you truly believe your child is in danger with your co-parent. This might be a situation where requesting an emergency custody order is the right option.

What is an emergency custody order?

An emergency custody order is an immediate temporary order granted by a North Carolina court that gives one parent full legal and physical custody of a child. This order is granted on an “ex parte” basis, meaning that it is granted without the other parents input or knowledge.

Courts usually grant emergency custody orders only in limited situations. If you file for an emergency custody order, you must show that your child is at a substantial risk of physical abuse, sexual abuse or being removed from the state of North Carolina without your permission.

What happens if one is granted?

Once an emergency custody order is granted, a hearing is scheduled shortly thereafter. Your co-parent is allowed to attend that hearing and present any evidence in their defense. At the hearing, the court decides whether to keep the emergency custody order in place, dismiss it or keep it in place with modified terms.

Before rushing out to file for an emergency custody order, you should make sure your situation truly meets the definition of an emergency. Realistically, many petitions for emergency custody do not get granted.

You might have to adjust your expectations

Remember that you and the court may have different definitions of an emergency. Your co-parent not feeding your child dinner one night or being late dropping them off at school three days in a row might not be the best parenting, but it is probably not enough for you to receive an emergency custody order.

It can be difficult to know if your situation meets the requirements for an emergency custody order. Talking it over with a professional before doing anything can help.