In the eyes of the attorneys of the Orlando Family Team, nothing is more important than the safety of a child. Although we regularly help parents navigate the choppy waters of child custody during divorce, we are also sometimes called upon to assist in matters of emergency child custody orders. The painful truth is that children can be imperiled by their own parents, the very individuals who are supposed to protect them.
If you find yourself in the terrible situation of fearing for your child’s safety at the hands of your child’s other parent, our highly-skilled, well-informed lawyers can help. As soon as you contact us, we will make your cause our own — working tirelessly to rescue your child and keep her or him safe until more permanent custody arrangements can be made.
We will seek an “ex parte” hearing in an Orlando family court where we will fight for temporary relief from standing custody arrangements without your child’s other parent having to be present.
Reasons for Emergency Child Custody Orders in Florida
In Florida, as in all states, there must be verifiable evidence of danger for the court to precipitously remove a child from the care of a parent. Legally, that danger to the child’s health, safety, or psychological well-being must be imminent for the court to take action.
The law recognizes the following as specific reasons for emergency child custody orders:
- Severe child neglect or recent abuse
- Sincere threats to abduct the child
- Evidence of child abandonment
- Serious drug or alcohol abuse
- A major change in circumstances or behavior that puts the child in danger
The last reason listed here may involve changes such as: a sudden change in mental status of the other parent, a dangerous lapse in that parent’s judgment that endangers the child’s welfare, a criminal act, a believable threat to take the child out of state (custodial interference) or allowing a known sex offender access to the child.
The judge will also take any domestic abuse into account in establishing custody and visitation, since any type of domestic abuse is viewed as detrimental to the child’s well-being and safety.
First Steps to Protecting Your Child from Immediate Harm
Contacting law enforcement is the first step. If you have credible evidence of abuse or neglect, like witnesses to corroborate your version of events, medical reports, CPS reports, or direct evidence (e.g. a written threat), you will usually be able to secure a restraining order against the offending parent that will keep that individual temporarily away from the child.
It should be remembered, however, that a restraining order will not modify a court-approved custody arrangement. If you reside in or around Orlando, your best option going forward is to contact Orlando Family Team so that we can help you protect your child on a more permanent basis.
We have the experience and track record of success to provide you with powerful legal representation now — when you need it most. Not only will we use the police report and restraining order to file for an immediate emergency custody order, but we will offer you the moral support you need to get you through this terrifying ordeal.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
With the exception of Massachusetts, every state in the U.S. has adopted the UCCJEA, a law that governs child custody enforcement. This law prevents noncustodial parents from taking children across state lines without consent in order to alter custody arrangements. Such action, also known as custodial interference or interstate kidnapping, is viewed harshly by the courts.
It should be noted that custodial parents, too, ordinarily must notify and have consent of the other parent to take the child out of state. In any case, a parent can only file for custody within the state in which their child has lived for the past 6 months.
Emergency Child Custody Hearings in Florida
As you are probably aware, Florida is a state with strict legal codes. Here, you will not be able to obtain temporary emergency custody unless you can persuade the court that you are dealing with a genuine emergency. This is a situation in which having a persuasive child custody attorney on your side can make all the difference. Our lawyers are familiar with the local courts and judges and know precisely which negotiation tactics will work best to keep your child safe.
What Getting an Emergency Custody Order Will Accomplish
Although the specifics of emergency custody orders may vary, an emergency custody order can:
- Suspend visitation by the offending parent
- Require supervised visits with the offending parent
- Order the other parent to take parenting or anger management classes
- Transfer sole custody to you or another family member pending the outcome of a formal custody trial.
Because the purpose of emergency child custody orders is to address imminent danger to the child and therefore the other parent is not able to respond to the charges immediately, these orders are temporary. This makes it all the more important to have one of our strong child custody attorneys on the case to make certain that, going forward, your child remains protected.
Emergency Child Pick-Up Orders
You may also require sharp legal advocacy if the other parent of your child is violating the child custody agreement by failing to return your child after a scheduled visitation period. If you are the rightful custodian, the noncustodial parent must adhere to agreed-upon visitation.
Therefore, if she or he has not returned your child within a reasonable period of time after visitation is over, you may pursue an emergency child pick-up order, meaning that your child will be picked up by law enforcement and returned to you, typically without any prior notification to the other parent.
Contact Our Experienced Child Custody Attorneys Today
At Orlando Family Team, we are always well-prepared to defend your parental rights and your child’s safety and well-being. We know that custody complications can be more than inconvenient — they can be alarming. If your child’s other parent is endangering, or threatening to endanger, your child, get in touch with us immediately.