Following a separation, parents have certain rights concerning how and when they can spend time with their children. Though these terms are negotiated and established legally, it is understandable that the non-custodial parent will be concerned about their child’s safety when they’re not around. This concern is especially warranted if the non-custodial parent has grounds to suspect that their child may be in danger.

Such cases may warrant an emergency custody order. Emergency custody orders are only given in North Carolina when a child is in danger of immediate harm. These decisions take away one parent’s rights to child custody without giving that parent notice or the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order in North Carolina

There may come a time when you have reason to believe that your child is in imminent danger. When such a situation like this arises, you can petition the courts for emergency custody. An emergency custody order permits a parent to have immediate temporary physical custody of their child.

A judge can issue an emergency custody order without hearing from the other party, but it is only granted in critical situations. While the exact procedure for obtaining an emergency custody order varies by county, the following measures are usually followed:

  • You must file a motion or complaint and a sworn statement of facts explaining why the order is necessary.
  • The judge will typically hear your motion ex parte, which means that the other parent will not be present.
  • If your request is granted, you will have instant possession of the child.
  • Within ten days, both parties will attend a hearing at which the other side will have the opportunity to explain themselves. Depending on the circumstances, the court can either extend or modify the emergency custody order.

Because judges typically hear both sides of a dispute before rendering a custody decision, they will not grant emergency custody without a compelling reason. An experienced attorney may be able to advise you on whether you have sufficient reasons to move for emergency custody.

Limited Grounds for Emergency Custody

North Carolina limits emergency custody orders to three situations:

  • The child is exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury.
  • The child is exposed to a substantial risk of sexual abuse.
  • There is a substantial risk that the child will be abducted or removed from North Carolina to evade North Carolina courts.

In these situations, a court may be willing to give an order without giving the other parent a chance to respond to the allegations. If you think one of these situations applies to you, contact a child custody attorney immediately.

Hearing After the Emergency Custody Order

Emergency custody orders are temporary. They are permitted in extreme situations when the risk to the child is too significant for the court to wait to make a decision.

The other party will need to be given notice and a chance to respond to the allegations. The court can decide whether to keep the temporary custody order in place or not. Either parent can then choose to have the issue of permanent custody decided by the court.

Denial of Emergency Custody

Courts will deny emergency custody order requests if you fail to show that one of the three situations listed above exists. This is a high standard to meet, and the court can’t grant emergency custody orders that don’t meet this standard.

You may still go through the regular custody process and have the court give a permanent custody order for your child. You will have to abide by the typical notice and service requirements so that your child’s other parent can participate in the proceedings.

Receiving an Emergency Custody Order

If you are notified that your child’s other parent has received an emergency custody order, you should contact a family law attorney right away. You may have a limited time to prepare and respond to the allegations during a hearing.

Speak With One of Our Knowledgeable Child Custody and Family Law Attorneys

King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Call 888-748-KING (5464) or send in a request form to schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of our dedicated family law attorneys.

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