How to File for Emergency Custody

How to File for Emergency Custody


If you think your child is in “immediate danger” of being harmed or becoming removed by the state, you could petition a decree for emergency child custody. The circumstances that you are seeking emergency custody without a doubt are far from perfect. You might be concerned, stressed, and/or mad, etc. Luckily, the process of filing for emergency custody comprises of only a couple of forms.

Preparing to File for Emergency Custody

Get yourself familiar with what emergency custody is. Typically, custody ascertainments take several months to establish. At the end of the process, the court will grant legal and/or physical custody to one parent, or to both. Occasionally, nevertheless, emergencies necessitate that a child be removed from their parent’s custody.

  • What warrants as an adequate emergency is typically decided by your state’s regulations. Usually, courts will not remove the child unless the child is in “immediate danger” of harm or is about to vacate the state. “Immediate danger” usually means present or regular domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Immediate danger might also be a failure to supervise, like when a parent leaves a younger child by themselves at home while they went to the store.
  • Realize that “emergency custody” is brief. When you successfully petition the court for emergency custody, you haven’t been granted permanent custody of the child.
  • Because the clock is ticking, a full-on, official hearing is not going to be held. Occasionally, emergency custody will be awarded devoid of any hearing at all. On the other hand, a hearing is going to be held with only the parent requesting for emergency custody present. Nevertheless, the court will hold a full official hearing later, with each of the parents present, prior to granting permanent custody.

Verify if you are able to seek emergency custody. State law restricts who can petition the court for emergency custody. Usually, you are required to be a parent, or an individual that operates in loco parentis, for the purpose of petitioning the court.

  • “In loco parentis” means that even though you aren’t a legal parent, you have operated as a parent and taken on the role and responsibilities of a parent.

Collect evidence of the emergency. In order to be granted emergency custody, you are required to typically prove that the child is facing “immediate harm.” Write down any discussions you may have had and gather e-mails and/or notes.

  • You are going to want this information not only for the petition for emergency custody but later, if you wish for full custody.

Speak to an attorney. When there is enough time, attempt to meet up with an attorney. An attorney can be a steady soundboard throughout a complicated and hectic time.

If expenses are an issue, many attorneys offered “un-bundled services,” meaning that they are going to provide limited services like document preparation, legal counsel, or instruction for a flat fee. Many places also provide counseling/legal help at no cost.

When at any time you get confused about how to move forward, you should seek out an attorney’s assistance. To locate a knowledgeable, local family attorney, search your yellow pages or carry out an internet search for “child custody attorney” in your area or county.

Regardless, if you are required to file something day of do not delay in talking to an attorney.

Completing The Forms

Locate the proper court. Since you are going to file the motion in the county in which your child presently resides, you need first find that court.

  • To locate the correct courthouse, go to your state’s supreme court website. Type in “Supreme Court” and then your state into Google.
  • At your state’s Supreme Court website you need to look for website links to “court locations” “locate my court”.

Go over the local regulations. Motion practices are governed by state and local regulations. You are going to have to follow then by them, otherwise your motion might not be listened to.

  • Usually the local regulations are located on the court’s website. You need to download the regulations and do a search for “emergency hearing” or “ex parte hearing.” The regulations can be long, so doing a search by way of Ctrl+F is going to take you to the applicable part.

Gather the forms. You need to petition the courts for emergency custody. Usuall, the court is going to have preprinted “fill-in-the-blank” documents for you to complete. You can obtain the documents either from the superior court in the county in which your child resides or from the internet.

  • The forms are called different names subject to the court. General names comprise of “Temporary Emergency Court Order,” “Motion and Affidavit for Emergency Ex Parte Order,” and “Petition for Emergency Relief.” There are as many various names as there are different courts.
  • Go to the website for the courthouse in which you are going to file the forms. The forms can usually be downloaded from the website of the court. However, you need to still call and inquire to the clerk which documents you should fill out. Even though the clerk can’t give legal advice, they should be able to inform you what documents you need in order to request emergency custody.
  • You might be required to fill out multiple documents. Many courts might require that you presently have a regular “motion for custody” open. In these cases, you are going to have to file the other motion first. Consequently, make sure you inform the clerk what has been filed or what hasn’t been filed.
  • When the court clerk cannot assist you, or you may be confused as to what you are required to fill out, seek an attorney’s assistance.

Be sure to go over and read the instructions. Each document should come with instructions. Read the instructions first-hand so you’ll know what you need to fill out.

Fill the documents out. You are going to need to fill out these forms completely and correctly. If you are able to download the form, you can type your information into the blue fields. If not, use a blue or black pen to neatly fill in the documents.

  • Typically, you are going to need to give the following information: your full name and address, the other parent’s full name and address, the other parent’s attorney’s full name and address, in addition to the reasoning why you are requesting the motion.
  • Don’t forget to only allege what can be proven with evidence. When you don’t have proof that the child is in “immediate danger” of physical harm, you should not make that claim through your motion. You might be held in contempt and be liable for payment of court fees.

Acquire assistance. You may seek assistance with filling out your documents from a self help center or the family law assistant at the courthouse. You need to call or stop by and inquire if anyone is available.


  1. Clinton M. Sandvick, J. (2019, November 27). How to file for emergency custody. Retrieved March 09, 2021, from

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Our child custody and guardianship attorney in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.


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