You always hope that your children’s other parent is taking good care of them, either living with them or during visitation, depending on your situation. Or perhaps you’re a grandparent who is concerned for their well being with their parent(s), whether or not the parents are your children.
Even if you’ve taken the best care you can, you may discover that your children (or grandchildren) aren’t in the safest hands while they’re away. It’s understandable to be concerned. But if you suddenly realize that something might be wrong, or you have evidence that leads you to be concerned, it may be time to seek emergency custody.
Getting emergency custody of children takes a little time and does require a considerable amount of paperwork and evidence of a concerning condition. Judges prefer to keep families together, so you’ll need to provide proof that your child may be at risk in his or her current situation. Some of the reasons for emergency custody include:
- Child abandonment
- A very unsafe home/living space
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Drug/alcohol abuse
Verbal and/or emotional abuse may not be enough to justify an “emergency,” and you will have to show that the child or children do face immediate harm and/or danger. The judge will need more than just a claim in order to award custody, so evidence is essential. Start with texts, pictures, and emails.
If the current guardians have a criminal record, you may be able to use police reports and other evidence, but you’ll need a witness in court. Anything that is relevant and demonstrates harm or danger should be submitted as evidence to support your claim.
Filing Your Petition With The Court
You’ll file where your child lives, or where your original case was filed. If you live in Tarrant County, but your children live in Collin County, you’ll have to file in Collin County. Contact their resident county’s courthouse to inquire about local rules, the process for filing for emergency custody, and getting the forms you need to file. Court personnel can explain what you have to do, what the fee is, and if or when you’ll be able to speak with a judge.
Your petition also needs an affidavit, and any evidence you’ve been able to curate to prove your case. Additionally, you’ll need to fill out a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – Extraordinary Relief. This is the order that the judge will sign giving you emergency custody, and will schedule a hearing (usually at the same time.) The other parties will not be notified of this TRO.
Bring an original and three copies. The clerk will stamp your documents, including your original and file it, then return one set of stamped copies to you. The other party will be notified and given the chance to defend him or herself. Unless they already have an attorney, you will probably have to provide service on them yourself, at least three days in advance of the hearing.
Once you’ve filed everything, a hearing will be set to determine if you should be awarded custody. Even if the judge grants your order, you will still have to attend a hearing. At that time, the other party will have a chance to speak, and the judge will have the opportunity to make your temporary order permanent.
Even if you’ve done the filing on your own and have been successful in having a hearing scheduled, it’s best to have an attorney to represent you and defend your side of the case.
Assistance For Emergency Custody
If you need to file for emergency custody, an experienced attorney can guide you through the process and help you prepare documentation you’ll need for a successful hearing.
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced Forth Worth family law attorney with experience in child custody rights and arrangements after a separation and/or divorce. As a divorcee herself, Wendy understands the process as well as the difficulties involved. We can provide full representation both for men and women and will work to ensure you are treated fairly, as well as protect the interests of you and your children.