What Is an Emergency Custody Order?

An emergency order is a temporary court order issued to provide protective intervention when there’s a suspicion of imminent danger and harm to the child.

But when should you file a motion?

The Florida Statute §61.517 sheds light on what constitutes an emergency. Based on what it says, state courts have temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child when:

  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The child has been threatened with or subjected to mistreatment or abuse.
  • The sibling or parent of the child has been abused or mistreated (i.e., in cases of recorded domestic violence or child abuse and neglect).

What Are Grounds for Seeking Emergency Custody?

Grounds could also include, but are not limited to:

  • Illegal drug use in the home
  • Risk of parental kidnapping/abduction
  • Reckless or threatening behavior by the other party
  • endangerment due to the other parent’s mental health issues

To seek emergency custody, you’ll need to outline your reasons and provide evidence to substantiate your claim.

How Do You Get Emergency Custody in Florida?

There are two ways a petitioner can obtain an emergency custody order:

Ex Parte

In ex-parte emergency motions, the file is sent directly to the judge who decides without waiting for the other party to respond. In many cases, the other parent is not notified at all for fear of parent kidnapping or because of the possibility that the parent may remove the child from a jurisdiction without the consent or permission of the other parent if they learn about the custody motion.

Notifying the Other Parent

The other party will be notified of the motion and given time to respond in court and exercise their right to due process. They’ll be provided with copies of the documents and will have the opportunity to refute the claims or present arguments against the accusations raised.

What Do You Need to File for Emergency Custody?

Here’s a step-by-step guide for filing an emergency custody order in Florida:

Collect Documents and Supporting Evidence

You will need to submit specific documents to show cause and specify why urgent action is necessary. This can include:

  • Reports from Child Protective Services
  • Police reports of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
  • A signed Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit if the child faces imminent risk of harm
  • Medical reports that may include evidence of abuse or neglect
  • Copies of communication (such as text messages and emails) with the other parent, establishing that your child is in immediate danger

You can also include sworn witness testimonies from teachers, neighbors, counselors, etc., to support your claim.

Complete the Required Forms

Obtain and complete the Family Law Form 19.941(d) or the Emergency Verified Motion for Child Pick-up Order. Judges will consider the facts of the children’s current situation and the information provided about the allegations.

They can decide if your motion should be granted. It’s critical that you are as accurate and thorough as possible to create a strong and compelling case in the eyes of your local family court.

Submit the Petition to the Court

Take your completed form along with the required documentation to the Clerk of Court’s office, sign it before a notary public or deputy clerk, and file it in the county where your child resides. Then, a copy of your motion will be delivered to the judge in person or by email.

What Happens at the Hearing? Possible Outcomes

If the judge decides that your child is in immediate danger, they’ll schedule an emergency hearing. During the hearing, the parties can present their case and demonstrate why they should have custody. This could result in one of the following outcomes:

Court-Ordered Child Protection

A court-ordered child protection order is given in cases of child abuse and neglect.

It’s a process that ensures a safe environment for the child. As such, the court may grant the other parent the right to visit their child under the supervision of a social worker. In some cases, the child may also be removed from their parents’ care and sent to live with other people to ensure their well-being.

Temporary Custody

In extreme circumstances where there is evidence that the child(ren) is under imminent threat and danger, the court will grant custody to one parent while prohibiting the other from caring for them until a formal court hearing takes place.

Permanent Custody Orders

The judge will look after the best interests of the child by considering the factors outlined in Florida statute §61.13(3) before granting permanent custody. Hence, it’s important to ensure that your case strong to help the court reach a more informed decision, whether it’s to transfer permanent custody to you or to authorize immediate transfer.

How Long Does an Emergency Custody Order Last?

An emergency order is usually temporary, but it does not have a specified end date. It will remain in effect until a permanent resolution is reached.

As such, it will last until the court evaluates the situation during the next court date when both parents will be in attendance and be represented by their attorneys. Based on the evidence presented, the judge will decide whether or not to terminate or modify the order.

Call 941 Law Help Today to Seek Emergency Custody

Navigating a high-stakes situation like child custody can be harrowing but you can enlist the experience of attorney Michael Fayard to help you achieve the best outcome.

We’ll review your case to get a comprehensive understanding of the situation, help you understand your rights, guide you through the process, and file a well-written petition to help you fight for your children’s best interests.

Contact us or call 941 Law Help today at 941-265-2733 for a free consultation.