What Constitutes an Emergency Custody Order Modification in California?

Serving Clients Throughout Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties

Keeping our children safe is priority number one for parents. It’s imperative to continue taking on that responsibility even after a divorce, whether you’re a custodial or noncustodial parent. Of course, you have a custody order from the court and need to adhere to this order – but what happens when circumstances change and the order needs to be changed?

We discussed establishing and modifying California custody orders last month, but it’s important to emphasize that emergency situations are a completely different conversation. You can work with the court to modify an order when long-term circumstances such as housing, education, or finances have changed. This process, however, can take longer than you can reasonably wait in situations where an immediate change to the order may be necessary.

Danger to the Child

Ultimately, the court will need to be notified of any request for an emergency custody order which will require an emergency hearing. The rules of the court note that the “ex parte application” be made in order for the court to “(m)ake orders to help prevent an immediate danger or irreparable harm to a party or to the children involved in the matter.”

The courts will always favor the best interests of the child. Their physical and mental well-being is front and center in what constitutes their “best interests,” so the court should quickly step in when your child’s well-being is at risk.

Domestic Violence

Your child should never fear physical harm – inside the home or out. When they’re living with or visiting a parent who abuses them it can leave long-term impacts that can often be immeasurable and permanent. The same can be said for children who are not physical victims but are still witnesses of domestic violence.

Whether your child is a direct or indirect victim of domestic violence, they may need an adult to stand up for them. It’s hard for children to speak up not only because of fear but also because they may not understand that what is happening to them or others in the home is unnatural or harmful. You can be their voice and get them out of a dangerous home. Remember, if you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, you can call 800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with a representative at the National Domestic Violence Hotline online 24/7.

Drug or Alcohol Charges

The most direct risks can often involve excessive or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol. If one of the parents has been charged with a DUI or other drug or alcohol-related offense then this could be grounds for an emergency custody order change.

Your child should not have to live or visit a home where substance abuse is a concern. This could expose them to substance abuse issues of their own or put their life at risk. You should immediately contact your attorney to get an emergency hearing set if you believe your ex is abusing drugs or alcohol and putting your child in harm’s way.

In general, the burden of proof in these cases will be incredibly high. You should always keep any texts, photos, videos, or documents that can support your claim for an emergency custody change in California. You should also contact an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Carroll Law Office so we can help you preserve your case and protect your children.

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