If your children’s other parent has obtained an emergency custody order for your kids, you are probably outraged, especially if your kids were in no danger to begin with. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for parents to make false allegations in an effort to gain full custody. Misunderstandings are even more common.
The first thing you should know is that an emergency custody order also referred to as an “ex parte” order, is only meant to be temporary. It is the result of a special hearing that is only used when a child is at substantial risk of serious bodily injury or when a parent is threatening to remove the kid(s) from the state. It is not meant to allow fair consideration of both sides. It is meant to get kids out of a potentially dangerous situation quickly before the other parent can present their side of the case to a judge.
The second thing you should know is that you will get a chance to set the record straight. The emergency custody process involves two hearings. The first is an emergency hearing before a judge where only the person claiming there is an emergency and their attorney are present. The judge’s job is to determine whether or not your ex is making a provable case without taking your views into account.
That first hearing where you were not present resulted in an emergency custody order or you wouldn’t be reading this. All that this means is that the judge thought that, assuming everything your ex said was true, your children would be at risk. A second hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of the first hearing to get your side of the story.
What should I do in the meantime?
You should immediately comply with the court’s order. Police officers may come to collect the kids and deliver them into your ex’s custody. You should not try to stop this from happening. Don’t argue with the officers or make any statements about your ex.
Try to remain calm. Don’t contact your ex and try to work things out. Don’t take any action without first discussing it with your lawyer. There is a good chance you could make the situation worse.
You should not even consider attending the second hearing without an attorney. This hearing could have a substantial effect on your parenting rights. The judge will decide whether longer-lasting changes to your custody order are needed, and you need to make sure your rights are protected. Ideally, call an attorney the moment you receive word of the emergency custody order.
It can be so hard to be accused. Your attorney is not here to judge you but to protect your rights and compassionately go the extra mile for your family.