An expedited custody request can occur when your children face an emergency situation that could cause immediate and irreparable harm. While changes in custody usually require the filing of motions, time for responses, and time for consideration, New Jersey courts may grant an emergency hearing in certain situations.
When your children's health and safety is at risk, you need experienced New Jersey family lawyer Joseph D. Lento at your side. Time is of the essence in these situations, and an experienced attorney can file efficiently, correctly, and can achieve the desired results.
Emergency Child Custody Orders
Most changes in child custody take time. They do not usually happen immediately, or even very quickly. However, when the right emergency situation exists, the court will make an exception and can make quick changes to protect the health and safety of your children.
Certain situations may constitute cause to allow for an expedited change in child custody, such as, but not limited to:
- domestic violence against the children or other family members
- drug use, sale, or manufacture in the children's home
- sexual assault or abuse against the children
- threats of physical harm or abuse
- actual physical harm or abuse
- extreme emotional or verbal abuse
Obtaining an Emergency Custody Change in New Jersey
To obtain an emergency change of custody in New Jersey, a parent can have his or her attorney file an "Order to Show Cause." This is different than a "Motion" to change the custody arrangements. It will be filed, considered, and decided upon within a matter of days, rather than weeks.
Certain steps are typically required before a court will grant an emergency change of child custody request:
- Filing an Order to Show Cause: With the help of an experienced family law lawyer, you can file an Order to Show Cause so that you can quickly get in front of the judge. In many cases, you can be seen by the judge that very same day.
- Explaining the Reason(s): In the Order to Show Cause, you and your attorney will lay out, in detail, the reasons behind the request. This will explain to the judge why he or she should grant your emergency request. The more detailed you are about the situation your children face, the better the chances are that your request will be granted by the judge.
- Notifying the Other Parent: It is required that you notify the other parent of the child who has custodial rights that you filed an Order to Show Cause in court. This is to give him or her notice of the court hearing and allow the person to appear if possible. This is best done with the help of your attorney, who can explain the specific requirements and can sometimes have a member of the office call while you are dealing with other matters.
In an emergency situation, you are concerned for the health and safety of your children, so the last thing you want to think about is if you filed the right form, the right way, in the right court. An experienced child custody attorney can do all of that for you, so you can concentrate on getting your children out of the dangerous situation.
Proving Your Request
In order for a judge to grant your request for expedited custody, you are required to show that there will be immediate, inimical and irreparable harm to the children if the judge does not grant your request. This is a difficult burden. These requests are not granted to just anyone and are not granted when the allegations are of a general nature. Granted requests typically deal with abused children and those whose lives in danger are due to drugs or violence. With the right legal help, you can prove your case.
If the court believes the situation to be dangerous for the children, he or she will grant an emergency order for custody in your favor. You will then have custody of the children fully, but temporarily. Within 10 days, the parties will return for a more complete hearing on the issues, where the judge will determine the custody issue more definitely and permanently. An emergency order is only meant to protect the children from immediate harm, not to take kids away from the other parent without due process of law.
If the court does not believe that the children face immediate danger, the emergency order will not be granted. However, this is not the end of the case, as your request will be converted to a regular proceeding on the court's normal calendar for a change of custody request. You and your attorney can still present evidence in order to get a change in custody when this occurs.
At the emergency hearing, and at the final hearing, there are different forms of evidence you and your attorney can present to prove your request for a change in custody. This includes:
- eyewitness testimony of the dangerous conditions
- testimony of a child psychologist
- parent or custodian testimony
- police reports
- pictures, text messages, or emails
- guardian ad litem testimony
The judge may even wish to talk to the children themselves back in his or her chambers, depending on the age of the children.
Contacting the Authorities
In some emergency situations, it may be advisable or even necessary to contact the authorities in addition to filing an expedited custody request. This may include local law enforcement, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP).
Certain situations are immediately dangerous to your children in such a way that these authorities should get involved right away. If you believe your children's lives or health is in immediate danger, a call to one of these authorities might be a good idea. You can consult with your New Jersey family law attorney about this issue ahead of time when possible.
Consult a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
If you believe that your children are in danger, and need an expedited or emergency change in custody, an experienced New Jersey family law attorney Joseph D. Lento can file the Order to Show Cause for you. The best way to protect your kids is with the right help.
Contact us today at 888-535-3686 for a consultation of your case.