When Can I File for Emergency Custody?

Divorce can be a difficult time, especially for families. When parents disagree about custody arrangements, or when a parent could be unsafe for the children involved, you may wonder, can I file for emergency custody[1]? There are some provisions in the law that allows you to file an emergency request for custody.

Reason for Filing an Emergency Custody Request

Emergency custody requests are taken seriously.  In Arizona, emergency matters are heard “ex parte,” or without hearing from the other party.  Consequently, there must be a very serious reason to justify relief without hearing the other party’s position first. As the requestor, you must provide details and facts about the problem that makes the situation an emergency. For example, if the children are in danger of being physically harmed, an emergency situation may exist. Keep in mind that the judge will review the request. If the reason for the request is found to be a lie, you could be facing some legal trouble, such as contempt of court.

Be As Specific As Possible

When requesting an emergency custody order, you should be as specific as possible. Provide as many details about the issues that caused concern. If you are unsure about whether a dangerous situation exists, consult with your attorney.

File an Emergency Custody Request

Emergency custody requests are put ahead of the regularly scheduled requests that have already been filed. The judge will review the details of the request and make a determination generally the same day they are filed. The emergency request may be considered a temporary solution. In the case of those who are divorcing, the permanent custody determination will be made as part of the divorce order. In many instances, a divorce can take several months, or more, to complete. In the meantime, parents want to be sure that their child is being properly cared for. If an Order is granted, it is generally only valid for a specific amount of time – usually only until the judge brings both parties back to Court to determine what happened and to see if the situation still exists as an emergency.

What to Do If the Order Is Not Granted

After consideration, the judge may deny the emergency custody request. If this occurs, it is because the judge did not feel that the child was in immediate danger, or there was not enough evidence presented to make that determination. This does not necessarily mean the matter isn’t important in the context of the rest of the litigation if, for example, there is a pending divorce or modification action.

Contact the legal team at Udall Shumway PLC to discuss your legal needs and for help with requesting emergency custody.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Can I File for Emergency Custody?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.

[1] In Arizona, “custody” is known as legal decision-making.  “Visitation” for parents is known as “parenting time.”  Emergency orders in Arizona may address legal decision-making, parenting time, or both.  For purposes of this blog, we will use the blanket term “custody” to refer to either or both terms when discussing emergency orders.