The process of determining timesharing, custody, and visitation can be time-consuming. Certainly, when parties agree and are generally amenable, that process can be sped up significantly. But when there is argument and contention, child custody issues can be long and arduous.
This is purposeful—custody is a very big decision, and courts (and the parties themselves) want to make sure they have all the evidence needed to ensure that the placement of the children, and their timesharing and visitation schedules, are in their best interests.
Unexpected Events and Emergencies
But sometimes, things happen in life that require an immediate but temporary determination of custody. These are bona fide emergencies that warrant that a court makes an emergency decision granting temporary custody to one parent or the other.
There are only limited circumstances when this happens. Obviously, there must be a real emergency, and often, parents may think something is an emergency, but the court does not. So the first step in getting emergency temporary custody is convincing the court there is an emergency in the first place.
Some situations that may warrant an emergency custody order include:
- A parent becomes incapacitated—physically or mentally—or else, a parent is incarcerated, and thus, the kids must be immediately placed with the other parent
- There is a threat of physical harm to the child or to the parent making the motion for custody, or even the threat of harm to the child, by the other parent
- There is a real, actual, present risk that a parent will flee with the child—taking the child out of the court’s jurisdiction or even overseas
If the judge does not agree that an emergency actually exists, it does not mean you will not get temporary custody—it just means that your motion for temporary custody will be put on the court’s normal docket whenever the judge’s schedule allows the motion to be heard.
Ex Parte Emergency Motions
In very drastic cases, a party can file an ex-parte motion. This is a motion that is filed with the judge by a parent that the other parent does not know about. The other parent does not get notice of the hearing or even the opportunity to defend the motion. The judge makes his or her decision based on the information given by only the moving parent.
This is usually done when there is a fear that if the other parent got notice of the motion for temporary custody, they would do something like harm the child or kidnap the child before any hearing could be held.
Because of the serious due process issues in an ex parte motion, they are rare. If the judge reviews the ex parte motion and grants it, the judge’s order will usually be temporary until the other parent has the chance to contest the motion and try to change the judge’s mind.
However it is granted, temporary custody orders are temporary—they can be reversed or dissolved when the court makes a final custody decision when the divorce is finalized.
Contact our New Jersey family law and custody attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC today for help if you have a child custody problem or issue.