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Filing for Emergency Child Custody in New Jersey

child with paper family

There is perhaps no worse feeling in the world than the one you get when your child is in danger. New Jersey child custody orders are supposed to be carefully considered with ample input from both sides, each given adequate time to prepare. And New Jersey courts prefer to keep children with their parents - both of them, if possible. However, there are some situations when one must explore filing for emergency child custody in New Jersey.

As our Red Bank child custody lawyers can explain, some grounds for emergency custody may include:

  • Custodial parent is incarcerated or in police custody.
  • Child has been taken to another state or country without the permission of the other parent or relevant court. This is also known as parental kidnapping.
  • Parent has threatened to take the child out-of-state.
  • Parent or someone else living with the parent has physically, sexually, or emotionally abused the child (or another child in the residence).
  • The living situation at the home of the parent has changed for the worse. Examples would be if the utilities are shut off or the parent is ill and unable to properly take care of the child, putting them at risk of neglect.
  • The parent or someone else in the home is abusing chemical substances and the child has been exposed to that abuse or the chemicals.

Judges are typically more likely to grant an Emergent Hearing when there’s a threat of imminent harm to the child if no action is taken. Prior history of domestic violence or credible allegations of abuse will bolster that claim, as will evidence the parent may be considered a flight risk.

We understand that time is of the essence. This does not mean impulsivity is in your - or your child’s - best interests. We always urge parents to at least talk to a lawyer first. Technically, you can file for emergency custody on your own. However, know that your odds are often far better when you have an experienced lawyer to help you. It’s imperative in these situations that you file the proper forms, return them to the correct office, and provide sufficient evidence for your argument. Given how much is at stake, a knowledgeable local attorney can be a huge help in ensuring fast, efficient, correct filings that contain ample evidence sufficient to establish your claim.

We can also tell you if you lack sufficient evidence to file for emergency custody. This is important because if you request emergency custody without presenting adequate reasoning - or worse, if you exaggerate the circumstances - not only will your request be denied, but it may result in unfavorable future determinations. Simply getting into a nasty argument with your ex isn’t just cause. We can help you identify your evidence gaps. We’ll also advise you if you’re more likely to be successful by waiting and gathering more information to make a stronger case.

The Process of Filing for Emergency Custody in New Jersey

As noted by the New Jersey Courts, you can request an Emergent Hearing for child custody when there are urgent issues regarding a child’s safety. Doing so requires filing an Order to Show Cause - and you must be prepared to assert that an emergency remedy is the only way to prevent immediate harm.

The Verified Complaint or Counterclaim form helps to spell out the process. In a first-time, non-divorce case, you should include an Emergent Hearing (Order to Show Cause) form. If you have an existing family division (FD) case on the docket (meaning you have an FD docket number with the same parties involved), you can submit an Application for Modification of a Court Order or Cross Application for Modification of a Court Order.

To submit these forms, you can either upload them electronically on the JEDS system, deliver them to the county courthouse, or mail them. (Obviously, the faster you can file, the faster you’ll get a hearing.) Working with an attorney is likely to help speed up the process because we know exactly where these forms need to be filed, how they should be filled out, and what they must contain if they are to be successful.

Note that while emergency orders typically pertain to children who are residents of New Jersey, the state may assume temporary emergency jurisdiction, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-68, if a child in the state has been abandoned here OR it’s necessary in an emergency to protect the child who is subjected to, or threatened with, mistreatment or abuse.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.

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