Emergency Child Custody
Helping to Keep Children Safe with Emergency Custody Orders
Every state has laws that aim to protect children and keep them safe. When a dangerous situation arises that puts children at risk of harm, it is often necessary to take swift action to prevent such harm from occurring. In some situations, one parent may be neglecting or abusing a child, or they might threaten to kidnap their child to take them away from the other parent. Other times, both parents may suddenly pass away or be unfit to care for the child due to mental illness, addiction, or other types of incapacitation.
When a child is in danger, an adult - who might be one of the child’s parents or not - can petition the court seeking emergency custody of the child. An emergency order can place the child in temporary care of a trusted adult in a safe environment. If you believe you might need an emergency custody order, you should never wait to call a Fort Worth child custody lawyer.
Overview of Emergency Orders
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or the UCCJEA, governs emergency child custody orders. Texas follows this law and, generally, you must live in Texas for six months to file for a custody order in the state. However, if a parent must flee their home state to Texas to protect their child and themselves, the UCCJEA will waive the six-month requirement and allow a court in the new jurisdiction to issue an emergency order.
Whether you had to leave your home state or you normally reside in Texas, you can ask the court to issue an order by preparing and submitting a petition. Each county has different procedures, and some may require you to appear in court, and some may not. The court will review the reasons why you are seeking the order and can issue an emergency order for you to have full custody of the child. The other parent or parents do not have to appear in court and have the chance to present a defense against an emergency order.
Who Can File an Emergency Custody Petition?
In many cases, one parent will seek emergency custody to protect their child from the other parent. However, adults who are not a child’s parents can also seek emergency custody if they are concerned for the child’s safety and welfare. If you are a close relative, neighbor, or friend and believe that parents are not able to properly care for the child, you should speak to a family law attorney immediately. Generally, you will want to report the issue to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Then, you might decide it is necessary to file a petition for emergency custody to temporarily remove the child from their unsafe home.