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Child Custody

How to File for Emergency Custody

By December 5, 2018October 1st, 2023One Comment

Emergency custody of children might be sought if one or both parents are no longer able to properly care and provide for the needs of their children. For example, if a child is in danger under a current parenting plan, the state’s laws offer a remedy. This is something that is only granted in extreme circumstances, so there must be a valid reason to seek the order.

What is a Motion for Emergency Order?

A Motion for Emergency Order is officially referred to as an Ex Parte Order or an Order to Show Cause. This is a way of asking the court to enter an order that gives you certain protections and/or rights in your family law case between the time the request is filed and the time it is finished.

A Motion for Emergency Order is slightly different than a Motion for Temporary Order in several ways. First, it is only used in situations that are considered urgent. Second, you are asking the court to make the order effective immediately, with little to no advanced notice given to the other party.

Reasons for Emergency Temporary Custody

There are several reasons why a person might file a motion requesting emergency temporary custody. The most common are cases of parental neglect or abuse. These take a variety of forms:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Witnesses acts of violence
  • Failure to provide for basic needs

Parental kidnapping has become far too common and often occurs when one parent disagrees with a custody order or wishes to “punish” the other by taking the child away without notice. Denying visitation or failing to comply with a court order is unlawful, harmful to a child, and grounds to file for emergency custody.

Other reasons for filing for emergency custody include abandonment by parents, neglect due to drug or alcohol abuse, and a sudden illness or death of one or both parents.

Washington State Laws for Emergency Orders

Washington State has laws that regulate under what circumstances an Emergency Order can be filed. You cannot file a Motion for Emergency Order unless you have a family law case that has already begun, or you are filing a family law case simultaneously. If you have questions about this, it’s best to speak with a qualified Washington family law attorney.

How to File for Emergency Custody

If you believe that filing a Motion for Emergency Custody is in a child’s best interests, you will need to follow a well-defined process. The steps include:

  • Speak with an attorney. Speak with an experienced family law attorney to see if your county provides a Motion for Emergency Orders packet.
  • Gather evidence. Gather evidence to support your claim. This might include photographs, records, witness declarations, and financial data.
  • Complete forms. Complete all of the required forms and retain copies for your records.
  • Ex Parte Restraining Order. Ask the judge to sign an Ex Parte Restraining Order/Order to Show Cause, and get certified copies once signed.
  • File papers. File the paperwork with the clerk of the court.
  • Serve papers. Have the papers served on the other party and await their response.
  • File your reply. Review any response and file a timely reply with the court.
  • Attend hearing. Attend the hearing and await the judge’s order.
  • Get orders. Get copies of the judge’s order and provide to all involved parties.
  • Appeal if necessary. Appeal the decision if it was not in your favor.

Navigating through emergency custody not only involves urgent circumstances but it can also be exceedingly complicated. The experienced family law attorneys at Steller Legal Group can protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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