Dealing with custody issues can often be highly emotional for parties, and it is often important to determine which issues need to proceed through the regular custody process and which custody-related situations constitution an “emergency” such that the Court would need to address the matter urgently. While there is no “bright-line” rule clarifying what actions are automatically considered to be emergencies, some general guidelines can be helpful, while keeping in mind that every situation is unique.
A situation which could have a significant negative impact on a child’s physical health or safety, such as violence in a household or a parent refusing to get necessary medical treatment for a child, will generally qualify as an emergency. In addition to seeking legal advice when these circumstances arise, it is often also appropriate to call the police or Child Line regarding any situation that could be physically dangerous for a child.
When a child is not in physical danger, an emergency can be a bit harder to define. For example, it might feel like an emergency when one parent is preventing the other from seeing a child. That will sometimes be reason enough for the Court to grant emergency relief, but not always, especially if the other parent has good cause for doing so. A parent moving a child out of state without the other parent’s or the Court’s consent might be an emergency, while a parent moving locally (even if they are violating a custody Order in doing so) might not constitute an emergency. The extent of the negative or potential negative impact of any given situation on a child is always the primary focus of the Court’s inquiry when the Court is determining whether to grant emergency relief.
If you are faced with an urgent situation that does not impact your child’s physical safety or health, it is often advisable to consult with an attorney to determine whether an Emergency Petition is your best option. Even if an Emergency Petition is not a viable option, there are many other avenues that may be worth pursuing.
If you are interested in discussing your individual custody situation with one of our attorneys, please call Tanner Law at (717) 731-8114 for a consultation.