Emergency Child Custody Orders

Under current North Carolina law, a judge may issue an emergency custody order changing the living arrangements of a child or awarding one party temporary custody if there is sufficient reason to believe that the child is at risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse, or there is substantial risk that the child may be removed from the state of North Carolina to evade the jurisdiction of the North Carolina courts.

Under North Carolina law, an emergency child custody order may be issued “ex parte,” meaning the order is issued without a formal hearing being held and/or in the absence of one of the parties. A formal hearing on the issue of child custody must be held soon after the emergency custody order is issued, usually within 10 days, so that the other parent may have a chance to defend or otherwise oppose the order.

In situations where there are acts of domestic violence in which the court has authority to enter a domestic violence protective order, the court may also extend the order of protection to allocate child custody and visitation rights or otherwise limit contact between the abuser and a child.

Given the opportunity for exaggerated or false allegations to be made by a party to attempt to gain leverage in a custody dispute, judges are sometimes wary about issuing emergency custody orders in the absence of reliable information or other convincing evidence. Therefore, if you have reason to believe that your child is in danger or may be unlawfully removed from the jurisdiction of the child’s home state, you should immediately consult with an experienced family law attorney who can offer you the best guidance and advice based on your unique circumstances.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.

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