Emergency Custody in North Carolina

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Normally, when you want to gain custody of your child or modify the current custody order, you must file a complaint or motion to modify in your local family or district court and wait for weeks or months until there can be a hearing.

During the custody hearing, both you and your child’s other parent offer arguments for the custody arrangement you believe is in your child’s best interests. This process can take weeks or months. However, this is not the case for an emergency custody order.

An emergency child custody order is a temporary custody order that you may be able to receive without a full hearing, and without the child’s other parent present. An emergency custody attorney can help you further understand this type of order, and if it’s the right move for you.

If you believe your child is in danger, contact a custody attorney from Breeden Law Office today. Attorney Jonathan Breeden will review your and your child’s situation piece by piece, explain the rules regarding emergency custody orders, and offer advice on whether this option is feasible.

Call (919) 661-4970 to schedule a case consultation today.

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North Carolina Emergency Child Custody Orders

When you ask for an emergency custody order in North Carolina, you will not wait weeks for a full hearing. Instead, you will go before a judge or magistrate relatively soon after asking for the order. You will present evidence that your child is in immediate danger of harm unless you are granted custody.

If your emergency request is granted in an ex parte hearing, meaning the other parent was not there, then the ruling must be reviewed within 10 days at a hearing where you are both present.

Reasons to File an Emergency Custody Order

Under North Carolina General Statute §50-13.5(d)(3), you can only obtain an emergency custody order in certain situations. To get an emergency custody order, you must be able to show that your child faces an immediate and substantial risk of:

  • Bodily injury
  • Sexual abuse
  • Being taken out of the state for the purpose of avoiding North Carolina jurisdiction

When you are contemplating asking for an emergency order, you should speak with an attorney. North Carolina judges take emergency custody orders very seriously and will analyze whether the potential harm to your child is truly immediate. It is a high standard to meet, but you must be able to show that prompt action is absolutely necessary because your child is in harm’s way at the moment you filed for the order.

The judge will review whether your child has suffered or may suffer substantial injury. Various issues that may qualify as substantial harm include physical injuries beyond typical corporal punishments, sexual abuse of any kind, illegal drug use in the household, domestic violence toward anyone in the household, a parent’s attempted suicide, or a child’s suicide attempt due to mental abuse.

If you are seeking an emergency order on the basis that you fear your child will be abducted, you will need evidence to substantiate that fear. For instance, if your child’s other parent or another adult has made believable threats about taking your child outside of North Carolina or the country in person, over the phone or through text, email, or other electronic means.

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order

The rules and paperwork involved in asking for an emergency custody order depend on your local court system. Wake County’s family court system will have its own procedures while the district courts in Johnston and Harnett counties will have others. If you want to ask for an emergency hearing and change in custody, you need to speak with an experienced local attorney.

You must file the proper motion form along with a notarized statement regarding the situation. You may also include other evidence of the danger your child is in, such as statements from teachers or child care providers, a statement from a physician, or a copy of a Domestic Violence Protective Order.

For the judge or magistrate to approve your motion for emergency custody, you must present evidence of an immediate risk of harm or abduction. Evidence is going to be critical. If you have no proof, you will not get an emergency order. You should have reports, photos, text messages, or anything else that supports your claim.

If you obtain temporary custody of your child, you have the right to take them home with you and retain full custody until the emergency custody decision is affirmed or altered at an upcoming custody hearing.

If you receive an emergency custody order, you must give proper legal notice to the other parent. This notice lets your child’s other parent know that you sought the ex parte hearing, you obtained custody of the child, and there will be another full hearing regarding custody within the next 10 days.

If You Receive Notice of an Emergency Custody Order

If you receive notice of an emergency custody order granting your child’s other parent immediate, temporary custody, you need to contact an experienced child custody lawyer immediately.

At this point, the judge or magistrate has already heard enough evidence of your child being in danger of harm or abduction that they have granted emergency custody. Law enforcement can assist in recovering a child if an ex parte order is issued. However, a hearing must also be scheduled so that both parties have the opportunity to be heard.

If your child’s other parent made claims against you specifically, you have a great deal to overcome. Since the hearing must be within 10 days of the other parent seeking an emergency order, you and your attorney have a limited window of time to prepare.

Defending Against Emergency Custody Orders

Being named in an emergency custody order is serious, but it does not necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Remember, the issues raised in the order were meant to protect your child, but they could be based on false statements, misunderstanding, or taken completely out of context. The hearing is the place to state your case and tell your side of the story.

Once you receive the order, you should consider speaking with an experienced lawyer. An attorney can review the emergency order, discuss your circumstances, and develop a strategy to defend the claims made against you in the emergency order.

There may be a very good reason for the action you took regarding your child and working with a lawyer will be the best way to show they were in no immediate danger while in your care.

Let an Emergency Custody Lawyer Help You

Whether you need to seek emergency custody of your child or defend against an order taken against you, contact Breeden Law Office today. Attorney Jonathan Breeden understands that as a parent, all you want is whatever is best for your child. He wants to help you do just that. If your child is in a dangerous environment, Jonathan Breeden will fight to have the child removed and for you to gain full custody. If necessary, he will seek a protective order or involve Child Protective Services.

If you have been put in the position of having to fight back against an emergency custody order, call Breeden Law Firm immediately. When your child’s other parent makes false accusations of you hurting or wanting to abduct your child, Jonathan Breeden will tenaciously protect your rights and reputation in court while fighting for you to maintain of your child.

To learn more, contact us online, or call us at (919) 661-4970.

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