Sometimes it’s necessary to remove children from a potentially harmful situation – and to do that, you probably need to seek emergency custody. In California, you can seek emergency custody by following a simple series of steps or by asking your attorney to help you file a motion for an emergency hearing. Here’s what you need to know.

Steps for Emergency Custody in California

If you can show that your child is at risk of harm or that he or she will be removed from the state of California, you can ask the court to create a temporary emergency custody order. These types of orders – called ex parte hearings – are only in place for a short time, until the court can schedule a regular hearing to consider extending or canceling them.

In order to get the court to grant you an emergency custody order, you must show that you have a very valid reason – and that there is a risk of immediate harm to your child. 

Related: What to expect at an ex parte child custody hearing

You’ll have to follow these steps to get an emergency custody order:

  1. File a Request for Order, a Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Order, and a Declaration. Your attorney will prepare these forms for you.
  2. Tell your attorney exactly why you believe the temporary order is necessary – and in as much detail as you can provide. (Your lawyer needs this information for your Declaration.)
  3. Your attorney will notify your child’s other parent as necessary. Your lawyer will also inform the court that you let your child’s other parent know about the request.
  4. Provide your lawyer with the written agreement between you and your child’s other parent that details temporary custody, if you have one.
  5. Make copies of your forms and attachments.
  6. Your attorney will file the forms at the court clerk’s office where you live. You may also have to pay a filing fee. Your lawyer will also find out from the court clerk when to return to pick up the documents.
  7. Read the front page of your Request for Order and Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Orders to find out what temporary orders the judge in your case issued. Your attorney can answer your questions and explain what happens next. 
  8. Attend the court hearing on the date printed on your Request for Order. (Even if a judge doesn’t issue a temporary emergency order, you’re likely to have a court date.) Your lawyer will take the appropriate steps to serve the other parent with notice, if necessary.

These steps for emergency custody in California don’t typically change by jurisdiction – they’re essentially the same no matter where you live. However, some courts have local forms that your attorney will need to fill out and file to notify your child’s other parent. Your attorney will handle those as necessary.

Before You Go Through the Steps for Emergency Custody in California: What Qualifies?

Emergency custody hearings are available when a situation puts a child’s health or well-being in jeopardy. Neglect, abuse, substance abuse by a custodial parent, or suspicions of abuse can all warrant an emergency custody hearing.

What Happens After You File for Emergency Custody?

The judge in your case will make a decision whether to issue a temporary order – but only after you have followed all the steps for emergency custody in California. If the judge grants your request, you’ll receive specific child custody orders – and possibly even attachments that direct the other parent to do certain things (such as have visitation only under supervision, for example, or to post a child abduction bond). 

Eventually, both you and your child’s other parent will have the opportunity to tell your sides of the story at another court hearing. The court will make a ruling on that date, as well.

What if Your Child’s Other Parent Followed the Steps for Emergency Custody Against You?

If your child’s other parent has filed a motion to get emergency custody, you have options. Your attorney may be able to help you explain your side of the story to the judge. You need to know that the court might only review the petition your child’s other parent filed, or he or she might also hear arguments from both of you before making a decision. Sometimes the court needs further clarification or to get an explanation from one parent. If the judge chooses to hear arguments in your case, your attorney can represent you in court. 

While you’re waiting for the court’s ruling, you have a chance to work out a deal with your child’s other parent. You may not resolve all your issues, but you could make some useful progress. Your attorney can help you negotiate with your child’s other parent (or with his or her attorney).

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About the Steps for Emergency Custody in California?

If you believe you need an emergency custody order, we may be able to help you. Likewise, if your child’s other parent has followed all the steps for an emergency custody order in California, we can give you direction, answer your questions, and help you prepare for your court hearing. 

Call us at 310-683-4623 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced, caring and committed Certified Family Law Specialist in Beverly Hills today.