Change Of Custody In Emergent Situations
- October 29, 2013
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The most common legal methods and remedies for a change in custody may not always be the best course of action in emergent situations in which a child’s health or safety may be at risk. In New Jersey, issues regarding child custody and visitation are typically among the most difficult in family law because of the extreme emotions that arise for all of the parties involved. In actuality, most parents usually do not even realize that a change in custody is required until an emergency situation requires quick and instantaneous legal intervention to prevent physical or emotional harm to a child or children. The usual legal channels for a change in custody may not provide a child or a parent with the swift remedy that an emergency situation requires. In the state of New Jersey, a parent whether in a divorce, separation, or non-dissolution situation may petition the court to modify a child custody arrangement at any time if circumstances have changed or other issues require an amendment to an existing order or agreement. This process involves either the party or his or her lawyer submitting motions to the court requesting the modification, and this could take weeks or even months to finalize. If a child is in a situation where one parent is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, is battling mental health issues, exposing the children to a sex offender or other abusive individual or is in any other way placing the child’s safety at risk – a month, even a week, may simply be too long to wait. For such emergency situations in New Jersey, a parent, his or her attorney, or even a DYFS caseworker can seek an emergent hearing or an emergent court order requesting an immediate change in custody for the protection of a child. In these instances, a court will evaluate what is in the best interests of the child and what is required to immediately protect the child from being in a situation of significant risk of harm. Keep in mind, a court will not be inclined to grant an emergent hearing or issue an emergent order to change custody unless the situation clearly dictates that there is no other available remedy to address the situation. Further, even in the event that the court changes custody on an emergent basis, a hearing will be scheduled to re-assess the emergency modification shortly after the emergent order was issued. If you believe your child is in harms way and an emergent hearing is in order to protect them or someone has wrongly accused you of placing your child in danger file for an emergency change in custody you should obtain experienced legal counsel immediately. For more information about custody & visitation, DYFS, parenting time, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com and NJCivilUnionLaw.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.