Your Instincts to Protect Your Children
We understand and respect your urgency and instinct to protect and provide for your children. If you find they are in an unhealthy or possibly dangerous situation, you may find yourself scrambling for answers. You have options, and you are not alone.
Though emergency custody is only granted in highly urgent situations, it can be a viable option the state has in place for exceptional circumstances such as yours. As with most states, Washington will always err to the outcome that is in the child’s best interest, regardless of other circumstances or previous decisions.
What is an Emergency Custody Order?
An emergency custody order is a legal order placed immediately to protect a child who may be in a dangerous situation. The other party doesn’t need to be made aware of or agree to the emergency order. This one-party initiation is also why the emergency custody order is sometimes called an “ex parte” order. The term x parte in Latin means “for one party” and pertains to motions, hearings, or orders granted on one party’s behalf.
Suppose your child is in a dangerous situation, such as the other parent exhibiting signs of drug or alcohol abuse, there is reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, or other concerning reasons; you may have a compelling cause to file for emergency custody.
Another reason or an emergency order may be that there is reason to believe that the other parent may have intentions of leaving the area or the state with your child without your permission, effectively kidnapping your child.
The Time is Now
Time is of the essence in these situations. It is important to note that if you have an instinct that your child may be in danger and have reasonable evidence to support the intuition, you should contact an experienced family law attorney immediately.
If you are aware of a situation and don’t do something about it immediately, this could be brought up in future court hearings and used against you or as evidence that you may not have pure intentions in bringing up the immediate danger now.
Keep in mind that this must be an immediately urgent situation, not simply a suspicion that may seem unreasonable. The reason for this is that courts want to ensure that parents are not abusing the emergency custody order and are utilizing it for its purpose, which is to protect children at all costs.
Contact our office immediately if you trust your gut and have reasonable evidence to support your concerns.
Does an Emergency Custody Order Legally Keep the Other Parent Away?
An emergency custody order only allows a parent to obtain physical custody of the child. The other parent will still have the right to contact or attempt to see the child.
Suppose you find that you are in need of legal distance from the other parent. In that case, you can file a restraining or emergency protection order and a motion for an emergency custody order. A restraining or emergency protection order can offer additional protection from your ex if you feel your or your child’s life is in danger.
Who Can File an Emergency Custody Order?
Either legal parent may file an emergency custody order for a child. Whether divorced, married, or unmarried does not apply in this case. It also doesn’t matter if you have a parenting plan in place with the courts or not. If you feel that your child is in immediate danger, you can file for emergency custody.
The priority of Washington state is to ensure that children are safe and well cared for. For this reason, emergency custody orders are an option for either parent to file.
Common Reasons for an Emergency Custody Order
Some of the common examples of reasons to obtain an emergency custody order are listed below. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, and the circumstances you are facing may be different.
Acts of violence – Suppose the other parent was involved in violence. This violence may cause you to believe that your child may be in danger when in their custody.
Verbal threats of taking the child – If your co-parent has made a verbal threat or warning that they would take your child out of the area or out of state, this may cause you to pursue an emergency order.
Neglect – Neglect can be more challenging to prove, but it may result from substance or alcohol abuse that is prevalent and, therefore, easier to prove.
A parent’s abrupt illness or death – sometimes, an emergency order isn’t for dangerous reasons. However, it may still be required, such as if the other parent is suddenly seriously ill and can no longer take care of the child efficiently.
Abuse – whether physical, sexual, emotional, or otherwise, you may want to pursue an emergency custody order if there are reasonable signs of abuse.
Your Attorney, Your Advocate and Protector
We understand your urgent and constant need to protect and provide for your child. If you feel they are in danger, you have every right to pursue your options to ensure they are safe.
Let us be your advocate and extend your protection so you can protect them. We take an honest and aggressive approach with our clients and help you understand your options and effectively pursue them.
Contact our office today at (360) 926-9112 to learn more. We understand this matter’s urgency and are ready to help. Contact our office today for your initial case evaluation.