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What is an Emergency Custody Order?

By March 15, 2024Custody

An emergency custody order, also known as an “ex parte” order, is a temporary order issued by the court when a child’s safety or welfare is in immediate danger. This order grants temporary custody to a parent or guardian until a full hearing can take place. It’s important to know what qualifies for emergency custody in Virginia, how long it takes to get a hearing, and what happens after an order is granted. 

What Qualifies for Emergency Custody in Virginia?

In Virginia, an emergency custody order can be granted if there’s a substantial risk of death, sexual abuse, or serious bodily harm to the child, or imminent removal of the child from the state. This may include situations where the child is left with a person who has a history of abusive or neglectful behavior, or in an environment that poses  immediate danger. It’s important to note that the risk must be imminent – minor disagreements between parents or general concerns about a child’s wellbeing are not enough to warrant emergency custody. 

Who Can file for Emergency Custody in Virginia?

Any person with a “legitimate interest” can file for custody. While it is most often a parent, it can be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other relative with a relationship to the child. A stepparent or other friend of a family can also file for emergency custody.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Emergency Custody Hearing in Virginia?

Once an emergency custody petition is filed in Virginia, a judge will review the evidence provided. If the judge believes that the child is in immediate danger, they will issue an emergency custody order. This process can happen quickly, often within 24 hours. However, this is just a temporary solution. A full hearing will typically be scheduled as soon as possible on the court’s docket, whe both parties can present their case. 

When Should One Consider Filing for Emergency Custody?

Filing for emergency custody should be considered when you genuinely believe that a child is in immediate danger. This is not a step to be taken lightly, as false allegations can harm your credibility in court. If you’re unsure whether your situation warrants an emergency custody order, consult with a legal professional who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances. 

How Do You File for an Emergency Custody Order in Virginia?

To file for an emergency custody order in Virginia, you’ll need to submit a petition to the court detailing the immediate danger facing the child. This should include any supporting evidence such as:

  • police reports,
  • medical records,
  • or witness statements.

It’s crucial to be as detailed and factual as possible. Remember, the decision will be based on the child’s best interest, so any evidence that supports this will strengthen your case. 

What Factors Does the Court Consider in Granting Emergency Custody?

When reviewing an application for an emergency custody order, the court focuses primarily on the wellbeing and safety of the child. They consider factors such as the severity of the risk, the immediacy of the threat, the child’s age and vulnerability, and the potential harm if the order isn’t granted. The court also considers any history of abuse or neglect by the parties involved. 

What Happens After an Emergency Custody Order is Granted?

Once an emergency custody order is granted, the temporary custodian has the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s health and welfare. However, this order is temporary and only lasts until the full hearing takes place. During the hearing, both parties are given the opportunity to present their case, and the judge will then decide on a more permanent custody arrangement. 

Can an Emergency Custody Order be Modified or Reversed?

Yes, an emergency custody order can be modified or reversed. If new evidence comes to light or circumstances change significantly, a party can request a modification or reversal. However, the court will always prioritize the child’s best interest when making these decisions. 

Importance of Legal Guidance during Custody Emergencies 

An emergency custody order is a powerful instrument designed to safeguard children from immediate danger. Understanding the process, criteria, and implications is critical before moving forward. To ensure you’re making the best decision for your child’s welfare, it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional. Don’t leave your child’s safety to chance. Contact Slovensky Law today. Our experienced team can guide you through every step of the process, providing the support and expertise you need during this challenging time. Let us help you secure the best possible future for your child. Act now!

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