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Emergency Child Custody Orders: What You Need to Know


As a parent, you want what is best for your child. You want them to be happy, healthy, and, perhaps above all, safe. Unfortunately, the world isn’t always a safe place for children. Sometimes the biggest threats come from those closest to the child. If that happens, filing a motion for an emergency child custody order may become necessary.

What is an Emergency Child Custody Order?

An emergency child custody order is an emergency order that grants an adult custody over a child, if a child is at risk because of parental physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. In order to protect a child, seeking an emergency child custody order becomes an option that must be considered. Custody is not limited to parents in this case, which can help protect the child if both parents live together and there isn’t a viable living alternative, or if the child needs protection from both parents. It’s important to keep in mind that the order should serve the best interest of the child, so there must be evidence to support the need for an emergency custody order.

What Happens if Emergency Custody is Granted?

Things aren’t over if emergency custody is granted. Sure, the order goes into effect immediately, but there’s still plenty to be done. There’s still the upcoming hearing that is scheduled within a few weeks after an emergency custody order is granted. When the hearing is scheduled, you will be given a document by the court about the hearing date. The emergency order will only be good until the date of the hearing. What happens with custody and parent time after that depends on what happens at the hearing. The hearing provides the other party with an opportunity to present their side of things and any evidence they might have rebutting the allegations against them. If an emergency custody order is granted, it is the responsibility of the new custodial party to serve the new emergency order and the order to appear in court to the other parent or parents. Keep in mind that it’s best not to try and serve the emergency order and order to appear in court personally– as it might not be safe. Have the sheriff, a constable, or a private process server serve the order instead and focus on preparing for the hearing.

How to Overturn an Emergency Custody Order

What if you’re on the other side of things and you’ve had an emergency custody order obtained against you? How do you overturn an emergency custody order? There are a few important things you need to do. Start by keeping records that you can use as evidence to support your case. Record all of your interactions with relevant parties such as a spouse, ex-spouse, or whoever the emergency guardian is. Journal your interactions with your child as well. Document any incidents of abuse or neglect. The more evidence you have in support of your case and rebutting the allegations against you, the better. Do your best to have neutral third parties present when interacting with those involved in the case whenever possible. Hire a good family law attorney to represent you and to help you build your case. A good attorney can make a world of difference in the outcome of the hearing. Next, file a motion to modify custody with the court, providing evidence to prove that the emergency order isn’t necessary. It should also support your claim that returning the child to your care is in the child’s best interest. You may also petition the court to grant a permanent child custody order.

No one wants there to be a reason to file for emergency child custody. Unfortunately, it becomes necessary in some situations. Others may find themselves on the wrong side of an emergency child custody order, perhaps unjustly. Regardless, make sure you have the representation you need to present your case and to ensure that the outcome is truly what is best for the child involved.

Do you need a family law attorney to help you with your emergency child custody case? Click here to contact the family law attorneys at Just Law Utah today.


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