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What is an Emergency Child Custody Order and When Would I Need One?

For divorced or separated parents of young children, working out a custody arrangement can be challenging—especially so if you are dealing with an unstable or unreliable co-parent. In some cases, you may even need to take immediate action to get an emergency child custody order to protect your kid(s). At The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA, we have the skills and experience to help parents navigate these high-stakes cases. Here, our Stuart child custody lawyer provides a comprehensive guide to emergency child custody orders in Florida.

What is an Emergency Child Custody Order in Florida

What is an Emergency Child Custody Order in Florida?

Broadly explained, an emergency child custody order in Florida is a court-issued decree that immediately establishes or alters a custody arrangement. Emergency orders are designed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of a child. It is typically sought by a parent—or other interested party—when there is an immediate danger. There are two types of emergency orders in Florida:

  • Ex Parte Emergency Motion: An ex parte emergency motion is a request made to the court without notifying the other party. It allows a judge to make a rapid decision to protect a child’s well-being before the other parent can respond.
  • Standard Emergency Motion: On the other hand, a standard emergency motion does involve notification of the other party. While still completed in an expedited manner, both parties will have an opportunity to present their case.

An Overview of Circumstances that Could Justify an Emergency Child Custody Order

Why would a parent seek an emergency child custody order in Florida? In general, the courts will do so only when there is an imminent need. Here are four specific situations that could justify an emergency child custody order in Florida:

  • Child at Risk of Physical Harm: When a child is in an environment where they are exposed to physical harm or a threat of violence— either from a parent or caretaker or due to the living conditions—immediate action must be taken. Such harm could be due to intentional abuse. The risk of harm to a child is the most common reason why parents file an emergency child custody petition.
  • Child at Risk of Serious Neglect: Serious neglect occurs when a child’s basic needs—including food, shelter, healthcare, and education—are not being adequately met by their caretakers. This form of neglect can lead to severe developmental delays, health issues, or even life-threatening medical complications.
  • Child at Risk of Sexual Abuse: If there is credible evidence or a strong suspicion that a child is being subjected to sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, it justifies an immediate emergency child custody order. Sexual abuse can have terrible long-term consequences for a vulnerable child.
  • Child at Risk of Removal from State: Another situation that could justify an emergency custody order is when there is a credible threat that a child may be unlawfully or improperly taken out of state by a parent or guardian who is attempting to evade the jurisdiction of the Florida courts.

How to File for Emergency Custody (Petition Should Be Backed By Allegations/Evidence)

Emergency child custody cases are extremely complex. By definition, emergency custody proceedings are a fast-moving, expedited process. Immediate action is a must. The petition for emergency custody is the foundation of your argument. Here is the key thing to know: Your emergency child custody petition—whether an ex parte petition or a standard petition—should

be supported by solid evidence or allegations of immediate harm, abuse, or neglect toward the child. Along with other things, the evidence can include police reports, medical records, and witness testimony. A Florida judge can put a temporary emergency child custody order in place based solely on allegations when deemed necessary to protect the best interests of the child.

The Best Interests of the Child Takes Priority in Florida

Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 61.13(3)), all child custody cases are resolved in the best interests of the child standard. Emergency custody cases are no exception. A Florida court will always review the emergency petition, assess the case, and write an order that is deemed to be best to protect the health, safety, emotional well-being, and overall social development of the child.

Contact Our Stuart, FL Child Custody Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA, our Florida family law attorney is a compassionate, experienced advocate for parents. If you have any questions or concerns about emergency child custody orders, please do not hesitate to contact us today. With an office in Stuart, we handle emergency child custody issues in Martin County and throughout Southeast Florida.

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