Griffith, Young and Lass Explain California Emergency Custody Orders
San Diego, CA – These days, most divorced or separated parental pairs have been awarded some configuration of shared or joint custody. Family courts are not inclined to separate kids from parents for any but the most compelling of reasons. What happens when one parent feels that their kids are in immediate or imminent danger at the other household?
Process to Protect Your Child
The first step is to establish that the child is legitimately in danger. Young children are bound to have bruises from time to time on their legs, particularly, from an active lifestyle and falling at the park. However, bruises on the arms and all over the body, or a child that seems chronically distressed should cause alarm and further investigation.
Next, you must fill out several forms, and serve the other parent within twenty-four hours of the hearing. If the case is such that their prior knowledge of this information is detrimental to child safety, they do not have to be notified until after the order for emergency custody has been passed. However, they must be served papers regarding the hearing where they will have a chance to explain their side before the family court and help draw up a document regarding the parenting plan for the future.
The packet of papers you must complete includes: the Order to Show Cause, Temporary Orders signed by Judge, Supporting Declaration of Ex Parte Application for Orders, a Response Declaration that the other parent can fill out, and the Proof of Service document. You must have copies of these forms for you, for the courts, and for the other parent.
Grounds for Emergency Custody:
- Abuse or Threat of Abuse: If the child is verbal, speaking with them about any possible abuse in as neutral a tone as possible will help establish whether there may be grounds for temporary emergency custody. It is important to pay attention to signs of imminent danger or abuse, such as when the child describes violent or abusive behaviors from the other parent’s new partner or the other parent.
- Parental Kidnapping: If the other parent threatens to suddenly move to or travel outside your state of residence with the child, an emergency order can be issued. In such a case as this, it would likely be done without notifying the other parent–but passed by a judge after your petition is submitted.
- Medical Neglect: If the child has a serious medical condition that requires medical care on a routine basis, but for some reason the other parent is refusing to seek the necessary care for the child while that child is in their custody–the best interests of the child are threatened and you may seek emergency custody. This also applies if you learn that a child has a one-time severe episode with no previous medical history for which medical care is necessary but the other parent is non-compliant about taking the child to be seen.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Emergency Temporary Custody?
This decision is entirely up to you, but the process of filing for emergency temporary custody motion can be intimidating. In the state of California, you must fill out and file four separate papers to initiate the process: forms FL# 300, 301, 305, and 310. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through all of these and help you set up for the other parent to be served these papers in a timely fashion (as you cannot serve them as one of the parents of the child in question).
Since many emergency decisions are made by the judge alone without your appearance, having a lawyer write out your claims and supporting evidence will more likely ensure the safety of your child until a hearing with the other parent before a judge can occur.
If you’d like a consultation with one of our compassionate family law attorneys at Griffith, Young, and Lass, please call 1 (858) 324-5330.
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