What to Expect From an Emergency Child Custody Hearing

Child custody cases in New Jersey can quickly take unexpected twists and turns that throw you for a loop. In certain circumstances, you can find yourself calling for or being called into an emergency child custody hearing. These proceedings can feel overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety for all parties involved. But what constitutes this type of legal precedent, and what should you expect from an emergency child custody hearing? 

What Is an Emergency Child Custody Hearing? 

With the potentially contentious nature of child custody hearings, you have some extreme options at your disposal. For example, an emergency child custody hearing often stems from one parent filing an order of protection against their former spouse or when there have been allegations of abuse and neglect. The New Jersey court system holds these sessions when one parent truly believes their child is in imminent danger if they remain in the custody of their other parent. 

How Long Is a Typical Emergency Hearing?

These emergency hearings tend to be on the shorter side for parents looking to immediately extricate their child from a potentially dangerous situation. However, they’re quick hearings and can be held without notice provided to the other parent. 

Should the judge find sufficient evidence of neglect or harm coming to the child, they can issue a temporary order granting custody to the requesting parent. The order remains in effect until a more formal hearing regarding future custody rights can be scheduled to attempt to make the new arrangement permanent. 

Requesting an Emergency Hearing

If you suspect that your child is in a dangerous situation under the care of your former spouse, you want to get them out of there as swiftly — and legally — as possible. To start the process, your experienced child custody lawyer in Westfield, NJ, can help you file a court motion, known as an order to show cause. 

When you file this with the courts, you need to state why you want an emergency hearing, which the courts will review thoroughly. Upon reviewing the document, a judge will decide if it holds merit and, if it does, will quickly schedule a hearing. 

What Happens During the Proceedings 

Since your spouse is not attending the hearing, it goes slightly differently than your past divorce proceedings. First, you’ll present your case and evidence to the judge to show why you’ve requested the hearing. Then, upon hearing your arguments, the judge will decide on the matter. If he sides with you, they may issue a temporary custody order until you can have a full hearing. 

While you’re looking for a more permanent solution to this situation, the outcome of this particular hearing is only temporary. They aren’t designed to give one parent an edge during ongoing custody proceedings. Instead, it’s meant to ensure that the child remains safe from potential harm until more definitive investigations and proof can be corroborated. 

How Do the Courts Determine if a Temporary Order Is Warranted?

With the delicate nature of an emergency child custody hearing, the courts must consider all the available information. There are numerous considerations the courts account for when deciding the outcome of the hearing. These include the following:

  • Is there an immediate danger to the child?
  • Is the other parent a potential flight risk?
  • Is there an established history of domestic violence?

If the courts feel that any of these grounds are met, they can rule in your favor, file the temporary custody order, and put your child into your custody. 

Let Keith Family Law Help You Prepare for Your Emergency Custody Hearing

The safety of your children is a parent’s top priority. So naturally, they want to do everything in their power to protect their children from any harm befalling them under any circumstances. However, if you believe that their staying with their other parent will put them in harm’s way, you need an experienced legal team to help you prepare to file the motion for an emergency child custody hearing. Keith Family Law has the expertise to help you through every step of this process. 

If you have any questions regarding your custodial rights and your available options, please reach out to us. We’re here to help you make the best decision for your children’s future. 

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