Child custody is a common issue in divorce cases. Parents who want to end their marriage must decide how to divide parenting responsibilities for their minor children. However, issues related to child custody can arise in many situations.
It might be necessary for a parent to file an emergency motion for custody. The petitioning parent can ask the court to enter an emergency temporary custody order to protect a child. However, courts reserve emergency custody orders in Florida for very specific situations.
Why Would a Parent File an Emergency Motion for Child Custody in Orlando, FL?
The courts in Florida have temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child when:
- The child has been abandoned;
- The child is threatened with or subjected to mistreatment or abuse; and,
- The child’s parent or sibling has been abused or mistreated (i.e., domestic abuse, child neglect, and child abuse).
A judge can issue a temporary custody order to protect a child from harm. Parents seeking emergency temporary custody can petition the court for an ex-parte motion or a temporary order.
Asking for an Ex-Parte Motion for Emergency Child Custody
In general, motions and pleadings filed in family court must be served on all persons involved in the case. The other party usually has time to file a response before the court holds a hearing.
However, an ex-parte hearing occurs when the other party to an action is not notified of the hearing. Instead, the judge decides the issue without input from the other party.
Judges do not take ex-parte matters lightly. Instead, they reserve ex-parte emergency custody orders for cases where the evidence proves:
- The imminent abduction and removal of the child from the state;
- The child is in danger of being physically harmed; or;
- There is a high likelihood a parent will remove the child from the state if the parent learns about the motion for emergency custody.
The judge determines whether an ex-parte hearing is justified by the facts described in the motion. Therefore, it is best to work with an experienced Orlando child custody lawyer. An experienced attorney understands how to draft a compelling motion that convinces the court of the need for an ex-parte child custody hearing.
Filing a Regular Motion for Emergency Child Custody
If the facts do not support an ex-parte custody order or the judge denies a request for an ex-parte hearing, you can still file a motion for an emergency hearing. The court schedules a hearing for the next few days instead of waiting weeks to schedule a custody hearing.
The other party must be notified of the motion and the emergency hearing. The other party can file a response and appear at the hearing.
Reasons why a court might grant a motion for an emergency custody hearing include, but are not limited to:
- Child abandonment
- Allegations of sexual abuse
- Severe child neglect
- Risk of parental abduction
- Threats of harm to a child
- Evidence of recent child abuse
- A parent has a severe addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
The motion for an emergency hearing must contain sufficient facts to inform the judge why it is crucial the court act now instead of weeks from now. Otherwise, the judge might deny the request for an emergency hearing and place the matter on the court’s regular hearing docket.
What Can You Expect at an Orlando Emergency Custody Hearing?
The purpose of an emergency child custody hearing is for a judge to determine whether there is cause to grant temporary emergency custody to a parent. The temporary order remains in place until the court holds a final hearing regarding custody.
The court schedules a final custody hearing. The parties build a case to support their belief they should have custody of their child. Each party can present evidence and arguments supporting their position.
Evidence that might be presented during an emergency custody hearing includes:
- Police reports of allegations of abuse and domestic violence
- Testimony from the parents
- Reports from the Department of Social Services
- Medical and school records
- Affidavits from family members, teachers, pastors, and other people in the child’s life
- The results of a psychological evaluation
- Opinions from expert witnesses
- Recommendations from a custody evaluator and/or guardian ad litem
The judge bases custody decisions on the best interests of the child. Even though the court issues a final custody order, it does not mean custody cannot be modified. Either parent can seek a modification of child custody based on a change in circumstances.
If you are concerned about your child’s well-being, talk with an Orlando child custody lawyer immediately. An attorney can help you take steps to protect your child and file for emergency custody.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803