How to File for Emergency Custody in NC

Raleigh mother who filed for emergency custody for young child

If you are concerned about the health and welfare of a child, particularly if you are their parent, grandparent, or other member of the immediate family, you can petition the court for emergency custody. However, it's important to be aware that this is considered a serious matter and one that is not granted without careful consideration from a family court judge.

To help you understand the process and how to get an emergency custody order in NC, our child custody attorneys in Raleigh are sharing what you need to know.

Why Would Emergency Custody Be Granted?

Emergency custody means removing a child from their home and taking away a parent's right to custody, at least for a temporary period. This is only granted when a child is considered to be in immediate harm with a substantial risk of:

  • Physical injury, such as in a home with someone who is abusive or neglectful to the point where serious injury is possible
  • Sexual abuse
  • Abduction or being removed from North Carolina to evade a court or custody order. Note: this can include relocating with a child during a divorce but not necessarily

Disagreeing with a parenting decision, not allowing visitation to an immediate family member, or similar issues are not grounds for immediate custody.

Jurisdiction for Emergency Custody in NC

Judges in North Carolina can only rule on custody matters in which the child's permanent home state is North Carolina, meaning they have to have lived here for at least six months (or, since birth if the child is younger than six months). However, if there is a true risk of danger, a court may consider this basis for temporary emergency jurisdiction, allowing you to file, even if you or the child have been here less than six months.

How to File for Emergency Custody

If you feel the circumstances meet the criteria, you must file a complaint or a motion along with a sworn statement providing information regarding the cause of the motion. You can also include third-party statements backing up your statement. When your motion and statement are presented to the judge, this is often an ex parte action, meaning for one party. This means the judge often has to make a snap decision without both parties being present.

Ex parte actions are taken very seriously as it's incredibly important in most cases for judges to hear both sides before making a judgement. This is why it is so important to provide factual, credible information while disclosing issues that can be important to the case, including, but not limited to:

Providing transparency is essential in ex parte actions. Leaving them out can jeopardize your motion.

After an Emergency Custody Order is Granted

If the judge does grant your emergency custody order, you will receive immediate custody, which will be effective until your hearing date, which is within 10 days. At that time, both parties will appear before a judge, and the other side can defend themselves against the claims made in the sworn statement from the original motion. If the court maintains the emergency custody order, it will remain in effect until either party moves for a hearing for permanent custody settlement.

Do You Need a Child Custody Lawyer to File Emergency Custody?

Before filing on your own, you should reach out to a child custody attorney to discuss your case. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine if there are grounds for child custody, and if not, what the best course of action would be. If there are urgent concerns, but they aren't considered emergencies from a legal perspective, a Temporary Parenting Arrangement may be the best option, and your attorney can help you achieve this.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Family Law Attorneys Today

If you feel a child is in immediate risk of danger due to their parent, and you wish to file for emergency custody, we can help. Our experienced team will listen to your concerns, help you draft a sworn statement and file a motion, and appear at a hearing by your side to guide you through the process. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, reach out to The Doyle Law Group today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the contact form below to get started.

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