This is a question that we are asked here at Meek Law Firm on a daily basis and the one question that we hate to answer because it is so difficult.
The short answer is yes. North Carolina provides for emergency custody in certain situations. The difficulty is when we must tell a parent that almost 95% of all the custody cases in North Carolina do not fall into the category of an emergency situation under the law.
A parent, or other interested party, can get emergency custody of a child where the child is in immediate danger of being harmed physically or sexually. The law also provides for emergency custody where the parent may attempt to take the child out of North Carolina for the purposes of avoiding the jurisdiction of the state.
These situations are extremely rare. North Carolina has interpreted the term “immediate” to be very limited in scope. Where there is a threat of immediate physical or sexual harm to the minor, the Court has the power to take immediate action to get the child to safety. This can even happen through an Ex Parte Proceeding where one parent asks for emergency custody while the other parent is not present. If emergency custody is granted in an Ex Parte hearing, the ruling must be reviewed within 10 days and both parties must be present. The review hearing is required because a parent has the constitutional right to be a parent. If that right is infringed upon by the Court, the Court must give the parent losing the right an opportunity to be heard by the Court.
The truth is that most situations do not rise to the level that a Court could find an emergency exists. The vast majority of cases fall into the category where an emergency custody motion will not be granted.
However, this does not mean that a parent is without hope. The custody process in North Carolina is set up to protect children and ensure that the best interests of the child are served by custody arrangements created by the Court system. Even if your case does equate to an emergency under the law, a parent may use the regular custody process to get swift decisions and eventually arrive at a custody order that is in the best interests of the child.
We encourage all of our parents to go through some sort of custody process where the parents live separately. We encourage collaborative or collective agreement between the parties, where possible, to give the children a stable schedule and the parents a set of guidelines to follow. We encourage the drafting of Consent Orders for child custody where the parents work out schedules and rules for the parenting of their children that can be submitted to the Court.
When agreement is improbable, we advise our clients to seek the decisions of a judge and present a case that leads the judge to do what he or she believes is in the best interest of the child given the facts presented. In either instance, our focus is to get the best possible outcome for the children involved.
If you are inquiring about emergency custody today, then regardless of whether your situation qualifies, it is clear that we need to start a regular custody case on your behalf. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. Let us help you decide if emergency custody is right in your case. Even if it is not, we will be able to steer you in the proper direction to get a custody order that is in the best interests of your children.
Contact attorney Jonathan Meek at Meek Law Firm today. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule your consultation appointment.