What is an Emergency Child Custody Hearing in NJ?
There are particular circumstances in which a child custody order is urgently required due to dire circumstances.
For all parents, their child’s welfare is primordial. If they suspect that their ex is putting their child in danger, they will be permitted to take the child somewhere safe or at least out of the other parent’s presence until a hearing can be held to determine the following steps to be taken. This should be conducted with the help of an experienced family lawyer. Child custody matters are complicated, and when dealing with such an emotional situation, it is essential to have a well-versed attorney to guide you through the process.
What Is an Emergency Custody Hearing in NJ?
An emergency hearing is when one parent petitions the court to request full custody and suspend visitation from the other parent. This petition is based on a declaration explaining why the minor is in danger and should not be with the other parent. This kind of hearing is called an “abridged hearing.” Frequently, there is a deep concern that the child will be taken out of state without warning or subjected to harm or negligence. This kind of hearing is called an “abridged hearing.”
Before the hearing, an Order to Show Cause must be filed at the local family court. The order must explain the emergency and provide essential details about the present status of the family. Anyone who has custodial rights to the child must be notified. They must be made aware of the situation so they can be advised that you have filed for emergency custody, will be seeing a judge promptly, and might need to appear in court.
What Happens At an Emergency Child Custody Hearing?
The petition to deny custody from the other parent can be for several reasons such as child abuse by the parent or someone residing with them, the environment being unlivable (utilities cut off, damage to the structure of the home, vermin), the child having been taken outside of their home state without the agreement of the other spouse, the child’s custodial parent is incarcerated or in police custody. Also, when evidence exists that the non-custodial parent is preparing to abscond with the child out of state.
The parent who files the Order to Show Cause is responsible for providing the evidence that indicates why the child is in danger. The kind of evidence that is submitted includes the child’s medical records (possible burns, bruises, fractures, or other injuries), documents from child protective services, statements from those who have seen abuse or unlivable conditions, police reports which describe the unsafe environment, reports from a school counselor or a child psychiatrist.
It is important to remember that the judge will only hear evidence regarding the emergency custody situation, not permanent custody arrangements or child support problems. The purpose of the hearing is to protect the child from further abuse or neglect. If the judge is convinced that the child is in harm’s way, an emergency order for custody will be granted. After ten days, a more complete hearing will take place to determine control, as an emergency hearing is not used for long-term custody agreements.
If the judge finds the evidence is lacking, the emergency order will be denied. But that isn’t the end of it. The paperwork will be submitted to establish a normal hearing. The judge may still find a problem with custody but does not see the problem as an emergency. Cases usually take about four weeks to be seen.
Steps to Get an Emergency Custody Order in New Jersey
The evidence must prove the harm the child has received is pernicious, irremediable, and impending to the point where their health and safety are in immediate danger. This is not a simple task as the court takes this kind of urgent action very seriously and will not decide say-so alone.
After all of the evidence has been submitted and the request for the child’s removal has been granted, the situation is by no means finished. Whether or not emergency custody is granted, a hearing will be held where both parents present evidence to support their custody interests or defend any accusations of dangerous behavior.
The temporary custody order remains in place until another is decided. The judge may require weekly drug tests, mandatory counseling or therapy, anger management, or other parenting education classes before changing the custody agreement again. The judge’s decision will stay in place until another hearing is called to make any necessary changes. It is vital that the conditions are met as failure to follow the order can result in fines, contempt of court charges, or even criminal charges.
A full custody trial will be held to present evidence as to whether or not the custody order should be changed. Witnesses, experts, and family members can offer testimony and can be cross-examined to determine the best result for the child and their welfare.
Contact an Experienced Elizabeth NJ Family Law and Child Custody Attorney
Child custody is undoubtedly one of the most complex parts of a divorce and ongoing parental relationship over shared children. The innumerable requirements, procedures, and forms which are necessary can be dizzying. An experienced family law attorney will help guide you through the process to bring about the best outcome for you and your child.
Attorney Edward S. Cooper, Esq, is a family law attorney in Union County, NJ with decades of experience handling custody cases. Throughout his nearly 25 years of experience, he has always sought to tailor his work to the unique needs of his clients while serving as a compassionate and dedicated professional. He provides consistent communication and is unwavering in his efforts to bring you the best result.
You and your child deserve professional representation. If you need assistance with an emergency custody case in Elizabeth, New Providence, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Rahway, Clark, or elsewhere in Union County, call the office of Edward Cooper today and begin the road to your family’s new future. Contact us at (908) 481-4625 for your confidential consultation or reach out online.