Whether you instigated it or not, you will have questions about the process and who will preside over your case after you have been called into an emergency custody hearing for your child. Here's a look at all you need to expect when it comes to emergency child custody hearings.
Emergency Hearings Are for a Serious Issue
Emergency hearings are usually only done when there is a serious concern about the wellbeing of the child. This could either be health or welfare problems and will include neglect, abuse, and presence of sex offenders in a home. In some cases, visitation issues can be brought up for an emergency hearing but only when there is a complete refusal of visitation in the majority of cases.
Only Case-Specific Evidence
Only the evidence that is specific and relevant to the case will be discussed during these hearings. This is not a chance to bring up other issues that don't affect the wellbeing of the child, and you'll need to go back through the court system for these. There will usually be some evidence of abuse in emergency situations, which will be the reason for the case to be brought forward. This evidence can be in the form of sworn statements, medical records, or even parental statements.
What happens if there is no evidence of abuse? Judges can appoint child psychologists to investigate and recommend either for or against a hearing.
Both Parents Present
In the majority of cases in emergency hearings, both parents will be present. This gives both sides the chance to give evidence and share their arguments. There are extreme circumstances where one party will not know about the hearing or may not have been invited to attend. This will be done at the judge's discretion.
Cases with one or no parent present usually happen when there is a chance of fleeing with the child or the parent isn't available for court.
Making the Decision
The judge will try to make a decision as soon as possible to keep the child safe. If the decision is taking longer than usual, there may be supervised visits allowed until all evidence has been heard and considered. Judges will then make temporary custody awards.
If you are served papers for an emergency custody hearing, it's important to get legal help for your case. These cases are extremely serious, but they will only serve temporary orders. It will be up to the parent (or social services) who called for the emergency hearing to file for a permanent order afterwards. To contact a lawyer, check out a site like http://www.glfamilylaw.com.