When Is Emergency Child Custody Awarded in California?

Emergency child custody is a temporary order that may be given by a judge in California if there is reason to believe that a child’s safety is at risk due to a threat of immediate danger or child abduction by the other parent. This type of order is generally only given in extreme circumstances, such as in the face of domestic violence or child abuse. If you wish to obtain an emergency child custody order or combat one in California, a San Diego family law attorney can help.

What Is Emergency Child Custody?

An emergency child custody order, also known as an ex parte order, is a temporary child custody arrangement that is mandatory for the noncustodial parent to obey. It may arise if a concerned parent or grandparent petitions the family court in California for an emergency hearing because of an issue that is threatening a child’s safety that cannot wait for the next available hearing date at the courthouse. California Rule of Court 5.151 states that an emergency custody request will only be granted under limited circumstances, such as a case involving:

  • Child abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child neglect 
  • Threats of violence
  • Threats of child abduction
  • Domestic violence or abuse 
  • Violent crimes 

This type of order is made to help prevent immediate danger or irreparable harm from befalling a child involved in a family dispute or matter. It can temporarily grant full child custody to the petitioning party, stripping a parent’s custody and visitation rights until the matter can be resolved or a permanent child custody order can be given. Other types of temporary emergency orders may also be available to the petitioner, depending on the circumstances, such as an order to prevent the immediate loss or damage of property.

How Do I Get an Emergency Child Custody Order in California?           

If you wish to petition the courts in San Diego County for an emergency child custody order, contact an attorney for immediate advice. While you want to protect your child as quickly as possible, it’s important to do so lawfully. An attorney can help you efficiently and effectively navigate California’s laws pertaining to emergency custody orders. An attorney can take care of the steps necessary to submit an emergency child custody request on your behalf:

  1. Obtaining proof of the emergency or threat to the child.
  2. Correctly and completely filling out the Request for Order (Form FL-300).
  3. Completing the Temporary Emergency Orders (Form FL-305) to serve as the proposed temporary child custody order.
  4. Creating a written declaration regarding notice of application for emergency orders using Form FL-303 or a local court form or acceptable declaration.
  5. Attending your emergency hearing with you to represent your side of the case.

The paperwork that you submit for an emergency child custody order in California must identify your attorney, if applicable, and contain facts using your personal knowledge to demonstrate why an emergency hearing is necessary or appropriate. In addition, according to California Family Code Section 3064, you must show immediate harm to the child or immediate risk of child abduction and advise the courts of any existing custody arrangements that would be changed by your request.

Can I Contest an Emergency Child Custody Order?

Yes, you can contest an emergency child custody order in San Diego County. As a respondent in an ex parte order in California, you have the option of either attending the court appearance in person or filing a written response to the motion filed by your spouse or ex-spouse. You can do this with or without assistance from an attorney. 

The family law courts in California will not modify a child custody order or create a temporary one based only on an allegation. The petitioner must have evidence supporting the reason for the request. You have the right to submit evidence of your own to counter the petitioner’s argument. If you need assistance with an emergency child custody order from either side, call (619) 375-1701 to speak to an attorney today.