How to Get Emergency Custody in NC

Written by Jonathan Breeden

June 10, 2023

If your ex threatens your child’s safety, you might not have time to wait until your custody dispute resolves. In that case, you can file a motion to receive emergency temporary custody of your children. This tool can help you and your family stay out of harm’s way until the court can finalize a more permanent solution.

Knowing when you can request an emergency custody order and the documents you must file with the court improves your chances of the judge granting your request.

What is an Emergency Custody Order?

North Carolina law states that an emergency custody order—also known as an ex parte order—is a temporary custody action allowing you to retain custody of your children in extreme circumstances without hearing from the other party.

Note that this custody order is not permanent. This short-term solution ensures your children’s safety until the court can schedule a hearing where your children’s other parent has the opportunity to explain their case.

Grounds for Emergency Custody in NC

Since emergency custody orders relinquish an individual’s right to see their children without giving them a say in the matter, the court considers many factors before granting one. The judge’s first consideration is the children’s safety.

You might have grounds to file for emergency custody if your child is at risk of the following:

  • Bodily injury
  • Sexual abuse
  • Removal from North Carolina to evade the court’s jurisdiction

If your situation is especially contentious, you might be afraid to take custody of your children if they reside at the other parent’s home. The other parent may refuse to give you the kids or threaten you in other ways. In these cases, law enforcement could help you recover your children from the other parent’s home to honor the emergency custody order as long as they have a warrant.

How to Get Emergency Custody in North Carolina

You must file a Motion for Emergency Custody along with a complaint for child custody if there is not already a custody order or pending custody action ongoing, with the court to obtain temporary emergency custody of your children. In this document, you will explain the specific reasons for your emergency custody request and your children’s current level of danger.

Additionally, you can state whether you have an ongoing custody action or an active Domestic Violence Protective Order. The judge will use this information to decide whether to grant you temporary emergency custody.

Once you complete your Motion for Emergency Custody and have it notarized, you will file your paperwork with the court. Be sure to obtain copies of your motion to serve your child’s other parents and notify them of your emergency custody order.

If the judge grants your request for temporary emergency custody, they will schedule a hearing within ten business days. At this hearing, the other party has the opportunity to present their case.If, for whatever reason, the judge denies your motion, they might still schedule a hearing within ten business days. If the judge doesn’t schedule a hearing, your custody case will proceed as usual.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Emergency Custody?

Although you have unlimited access to resources on the internet, including court documents and informational guides, nothing compares to the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Each family law case is different, with varying degrees of complexity. Filing a motion for emergency custody is not a “do it yourself” project. Failing to complete and file your court documents properly could stall getting emergency custody at a time when you can’t afford to wait another day.

Further, an experienced attorney ensures the judge has all the information they need to make their decision, so your motion doesn’t get denied. If the judge denies your motion, your attorney could explore other options to ensure the health and safety of your children.

Let Us Help You Get Emergency Custody

When you need immediate custody of your children, you must contact a North Carolina family law attorney who knows the ins and outs of the court system and how to ensure it works to your benefit. Whether your children have been abused or your ex threatens to remove them from the court’s jurisdiction, our team of lawyers at the Breeden Law Office can help.

Contact us today by calling (919) 661-4970 today to get started on your case.


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