A Brighter Future Awaits.

Could My Boyfriend Get Emergency Custody Even Though He’s Not the Father?

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2024 | Family Law |

If your boyfriend wants emergency custody of your child, it’s understandable to feel frantic. Your parenting is under attack, and you need to act immediately to resolve the situation. But can a boyfriend who isn’t the biological father actually get emergency custody in North Carolina?

The Short Answer: Yes, It’s Possible

Under North Carolina law, it is possible for a boyfriend or girlfriend to obtain temporary emergency custody of a child they are not the parent of. However, they have to meet a very high burden of proof before courts will grant this type of “ex-parte” custody order.

What is an Ex-Parte Emergency Custody Order?

An “ex-parte” custody order is an immediate, *short-term custody order of a child whose welfare may be at risk due to abuse or neglect. If one is granted, it generally happens at an emergency hearing where the parents aren’t even present.

An ex-parte order is temporary, lasting only until a full hearing can be held. This is the hearing where you get to have your say as the parent.

*Even “emergency” orders take time.

Three Things a Boyfriend Must Prove to Get An Ex-Parte Custody Order?

When a third-party like a boyfriend wants to take custody of a child, they must show that there is a substantial risk that the child may suffer bodily harm or sexual abuse if they are allowed to remain with either of their parents. They also have to prove they’re already in a parental role and that they’re a better choice than others.

In other words, they must meet these three criteria:

  • Acted as a parent: The individual has established a consistent parental role in the child’s life. This usually means having lived with the child and taken on significant parental responsibilities.
  • Parental inadequacy: There is clear evidence that neither of the child’s biological parents can or will provide the necessary care/supervision, thus endangering the child’s safety.
  • Child’s best interest: The third party proves that gaining temporary emergency custody is in the child’s best interests compared to other relatives or third parties.

Burden of Proof is Very High

Judges meticulously assess whether ex-parte custody with a third party is truly in the child’s best interests. Compelling evidence must be presented showing a substantial risk of bodily harm or sexual abuse if the child remains with either parent.

Get Help Protecting Your Rights

If your boyfriend or another third party is trying to take your children through an emergency custody order, you need to act quickly and get legal representation from an experienced, compassionate family law attorney. This is an extremely difficult and emotional situation to go through as a parent. You deserve to have attorney on your side who not only understands the complex custody laws, but who also handles your case with empathy.



findlaw network