As a parent, your child’s safety and well-being are your top priority. But what happens when you find yourself in a situation where your child is in immediate danger, and you need to take action to protect them?
In North Carolina, one option is to seek emergency custody. But what exactly is emergency custody, and when can you get it?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of emergency custody in North Carolina, including what qualifies as an emergency situation, how the process works, and what factors the court will consider when deciding whether to grant an ex parte order.
Whether you’re facing a sudden crisis or simply want to be prepared for any eventuality, this guide will provide the information you need to make informed decisions and protect your child’s best interests. If you need additional help, reach out to a child custody lawyer at Apple Payne Law today.
That’s a question we answer on an almost daily basis. North Carolina, like most states, very strictly controls emergency custody. Unfortunately, almost 90% of the time, the judge would NOT grant emergency custody.
Under NCGS §50-13.5(d)(3), the Court can grant emergency custody (also called an ex parte order) if the child is in immediate danger of physical or sexual harm or the child is in danger of being taken out of the state and not returned.
In general, Judges do not like to grant emergency custody because it means they only have heard one side of the story. Both parents are entitled to a right to parent their child, so taking the child away from the other parent without a child custody hearing violates that right and requires an immediate hearing.
If the Court grants emergency custody, a hearing MUST be scheduled within ten days to allow the other parent to be heard.
To file for emergency custody in North Carolina, follow these steps:
Remember that emergency orders are temporary and typically only granted in urgent situations. If you believe your child is at risk, work with an attorney to help you protect your child’s well-being.
The process for getting custody will depend on various factors, including the urgency of the situation, the court’s schedule, and the availability of a judge to hear the case.
However, if the child faces an immediate risk of harm, the court may expedite the process. In these cases, the judge may grant custody within 24 to 48 hours.
Even if a Court will not grant emergency custody, that doesn’t mean you have to wait six months to get in front of a judge.
At Apple Payne Law, our family law firm typically handles cases where it doesn’t justify true emergency custody, but it is a true, urgent situation (perhaps a parent is withholding visitation for over a month or is making rapid, negative changes) as follows:
If a parent requests more time to respond but withholds the child, the judge may issue a temporary order allowing equal contact or visitation for the non-custodial parent.
At worst, the judge can read the parent withholding the child “the riot act” about misbehaving regarding the other parent’s rights, which lays the basis for an order in favor of the other parent, attorneys fees, and/or sanctions as appropriate.
Emergency custody is tricky, especially if you aren’t the mom or dad (i.e., grandparents or relatives), and we strongly urge you to meet with an attorney to discuss your options.
At Apple Payne Law, our child custody lawyers do regular consultations, or if it is an emergency and there’s short notice, we would be glad to discuss your situation with you and determine if an expedited custody filing or a more standard custody approach is best for you.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our firm to see how we can help you represent yourself, contact us today!