3 Things to Know About Emergency Custody Orders in California

As a parent, it’s normal to be alarmed when you believe your child may be in danger. Imagine your daughter returning from a visit with her father, hungry and scared and saying that he made her stay in the bedroom while he and some friends were doing drugs – after he swore to the court during the divorce that he was clean!

What can you do? You want to immediately refuse future visitation but you know that doing so would violate the custody and visitation order. To compound the problem, modifications to an existing order can take weeks to schedule and require both parents to tell their stories to the judge. Your former spouse’s next visit is scheduled for next weekend, so you want to act fast.

California Family Code Section 3064 allows parents who believe that their children may be in imminent danger to obtain an ex parte order that grants a temporary change in custody. In this blog, we’ll list three things you need to know about applying for an emergency order here.

1. Any Custody Changes Are Only Temporary

Emergency changes in custody are only a temporary measure intended to protect the child while you wait for a full court hearing. The other parent has the right to tell their side of the story and refute your allegations. If the judge changes your existing custody order or issues a new one, it will remain in effect only until an evidentiary hearing can be scheduled.

2. Only Certain Situations Warrant An Emergency Change In Custody

Custody orders affect the parent-child relationship, which is why California courts only change them under certain circumstances. If you’re furious because your ex lets your child stay up late and skip their homework, it probably won’t be considered an urgent situation. Similarly, issues like the other parent skipping visitation or returning the child late are not emergencies. There must be a real risk to the child’s health and welfare.

Circumstances that could warrant an immediate change include allegations of:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Domestic violence in the other parent’s household
  • Substance abuse
  • The other parent suffering from a mental or physical illness that could endanger the child

If your former spouse holds citizenship in another country and threatens to take your child away and not return them, a fear of parental kidnapping can also be grounds for an emergency custody change.

3. You Carry the Burden of Proof

Any parent seeking to limit the other parent’s access to the child needs to provide specific and convincing evidence that ongoing contact is detrimental to the child’s welfare. This information must include:

  • A detailed explanation of why you believe that your child is in danger of being harmed or taken out of California
  • The date of each incident
  • Evidence of the endangering incidents, such as statements from the child, medical records, or any CPS reports

It is critical that you collect as much proof as possible, or the temporary custody order is not likely to be granted. An experienced California child custody attorney will help you prepare your court request so that it expresses your concerns in a clear, convincing manner and can result in the protection your child needs.

Contact a California Family Law Firm That Cares

At KL Family Law, we understand how urgent your child’s safety is and will help you take the necessary steps to protect them. If you believe an emergency custody order may be necessary, don’t delay! Contact us immediately at 714-372-2217.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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