No one doubts the importance of laws that help protect our children from troublesome situations. Trouble comes in many forms, like parental kidnapping of a child, parental neglect, abuse, or even the incapacity or sudden death of both parents. The list goes on and on! But in any of these unfortunate situations, courts across all states can get involved and issue an emergency temporary custody for the child. After all, in this devastating time, someone will need to care for the child. Let’s talk more about emergency temporary custody.
It all starts with The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or the UCCJEA. This is the primary line of defense for emergency temporary custody. Every state across the nation adopted the UCCJEA, except Massachusetts. They initiate the laws that govern child custody enforcement. They also enforce the jurisdiction, which means they determine which court has the authority to issue an order. Its design prevents and discourages interstate kidnapping by non-custodial parents. Yes, that is something that used to happen often! Before the UCCJEA, it was fairly common for non-custodial parents to take their children without permission or consent. Then they would travel across state lines and ask a different court to grant custody orders.
But with the UCCJEA, a parent can only file for custody in the state where their child has lived for the past six months. But not everything is so clear-cut. There are specific provisions when it comes to emergency temporary custody issues. For example, if you’re forced to leave your home state because your child’s welfare is threatened. We’re talking situations like abuse and neglect by the other parent. What happens then? The new state may use its jurisdiction to issue an emergency temporary custody order until it, or the home state court, can figure out a more permanent solution. At the end of the day, the court in the county where the child lives has local jurisdiction when it comes to emergency temporary custody.
But what happens if you aren’t forced to flee your home state? Well, then you can seek emergency custody orders from your local court. If your child is in danger from the other parent, you can go to your county court, and request emergency temporary custody. You may be wondering, “Do I have to appear before a judge?” That really depends on the laws in your specific county. The court then may place your child with you on a short-term basis. Then when it issues an emergency temporary custody, it may not require the other parent’s appearance.
However, judges can schedule full court hearings when it comes to determining permanent custody orders. This means both parents will be present and have the opportunity to share their side of the story. Permanent custody orders take place pretty quickly after granting emergency temporary custody.
Unfortunately, an emergency temporary custody situation can occur when a child’s parents are killed. It can even occur when a parent faces injuries so severe, they can no longer provide care, and there’s no guardian to appoint. One thing some states allow you to do is plan ahead and name a standby guardian. If a death or emergency ever occurs, the child’s standby guardian receives emergency temporary custody. The custody stands until the court can appoint a permanent guardian, or the parents are able to care for the children again.
You also may be wondering, “Does it have to be just parents?” The answer is no. If you are aware that a child is being abused or neglected by a parent, you can take immediate action. You should report the situation to your local child welfare or social services department. Depending on the state you live in, the official name of the department may vary. It is typically called the Department of Children and Family Services. You may discover other departments like Child Protective Services, or Department of Social Services. You can also contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (1-800-4-A-CHILD).
If you want emergency temporary custody of the child, you need to go to the local family court and file a motion for temporary custody. We all know the complications of removing a child from their parents or caregivers. So it’s important to consult with a custody expert. When a court places a child under temporary protective custody, it’s working towards fixing the problems at home. It may involve sending the parents to alcohol or substance abuse rehabilitation. Sometimes parents face screenings or drug tests, parenting courses, or anger management. But at the end of the day, the system aims to one day reunify the children with their parents.
If you, or anyone you know, have any questions about emergency temporary custody, contact us today here.
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