In many custody proceedings, whether it is through divorce, modification of custody or simply establishing initial custody and parentage, there are emergency circumstances where a father can — and should — ask the court to grant him emergency temporary custody over the minor child.

In order to have grounds to ask for emergency temporary custody, a father must be able to prove that there are serious circumstances that warrant an emergency change.

This can include showing the child in question could potentially be removed from the jurisdiction of the court (usually the mother threatening to take the child out of the state and never returning), or there is fear that potential danger or imminent harm will occur if the child continues to stay in the mother’s care (such as the mother recently obtaining a DUI with the child in the car and a history of drinking heavily around the child).

In most states, a father can file a pleading with an attached affidavit asking the court to grant him emergency temporary custody before having to go to court or even noticing the other party if the circumstances are serious enough that there is a fear of immediate harm that will come to the child if the child remains in the care and control of the mother.

However, in many states, if the father files this pleading and affidavit and the judge signs it, the father must get the mother served as soon as possible because the judge will immediately schedule a hearing on the matter within three days of issuing and signing the order for emergency temporary custody.

The best advice to father’s wishing to obtain emergency temporary custody is that if you see or find out about a dangerous circumstance surrounding the mother’s conduct that would warrant filing an emergency custody pleading, contact a lawyer immediately — do not wait.

There has been too many times that judge’s do not grant this emergency custody at the hearing because this “emergency” circumstance occurred months ago, and the father’s neglect in filing anything right away shows to the court that it was not truly an emergency.

The second piece of advice to father’s wishing to obtain emergency temporary custody would be to wait until he has his scheduled visitation with the minor child when the judge signs the order so that you don’t have to track down the mother to get the child or get the police involved.

If that is not possible or feasible, then have the judge-signed order granting you emergency custody with you at all times and contact the police when you pick up the child from the mother’s location.

The safety of your children is of the utmost importance. If the custodial parent is putting them in danger, it is extremely important for you to take action to remove them from that environment.

Do not hesitate to contact an attorney if you have serious concerns about the welfare of your kids.

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