Emergency Child Custody Lawyer in Pennsylvania
You never want to be in a situation where your child is at risk of harm from the other parent. But it happens. Harm materializes in different ways, from physical violence to kidnapping to parental substance abuse. In Pennsylvania, options are available to help protect your child when the circumstances warrant it.
If your child is at risk of harm while with the other parent, you want to be prepared and get immediate legal help. At Rogers & Rogers, PC, our child custody lawyer in Pittsburgh will help you file the petition you need and walk you through the process. We will answer your questions and work hard to protect your rights and well as the well-being of your child. Contact us today at (412) 434-7500 to schedule a confidential Free Initial Consultation.
What Does Emergency Child Custody Mean?
It is not unusual for a court's schedule, or docket, to be backlogged, which means parties can sometimes wait weeks, or even months, to be heard by a judge. This is true in most civil law matters, including family law.
While delays and wait times may be acceptable for run-of-the-mill matters, emergency situations regarding child custody require an immediate court hearing. Each state has its own way of handling these matters, but all states intend to resolve them in the best interest of the child. Due to their expeditiousness, decisions reached in emergency hearings are typically, although not always, temporary. Follow-up hearings are scheduled for the court to address the matter again in a non-emergency setting to determine if the temporary order should become permanent, if another modification is necessary, or if the status quo should be upheld.
Commonly Used Grounds for Emergency Child Custody in Pennsylvania
States do not allow emergency child custody hearings for just any reason. While the exact grounds vary by jurisdiction, some common reasons states grant emergency child custody are listed below.
- Plans to Kidnap: When one parent becomes aware or suspects that the other parent plans to kidnap the minor child when they next have access to them, grounds for emergency custody may exist.
- Child Abuse: Abuse of a child is never acceptable and is a common reason for an emergency custody change.
- Drug Addiction: A parent that is addicted to drugs or alcohol may not be able to provide proper care to a child. Drug addiction is grounds for emergency child custody.
- Incarceration: When one parent is incarcerated, there are grounds for emergency child custody.
Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list of grounds. Other grounds may exist in your jurisdiction. Contact Rogers & Rogers, PC to discuss your specific situation.
Who Can You Seek Emergency Child Custody in Pennsylvania?
While it varies by circumstances and jurisdictions, who can seek emergency child custody is typically limited to parents, but sometimes another family member or state agency may seek it.
A parent who believes their child's well-being is in imminent danger is able to seek emergency child custody.
When grandparents suspect their grandchild is not receiving proper care from either parent, they may be able to seek emergency child custody.
Other Family Member
Any other family member, such as an aunt or uncle, may be able to intervene for emergency custody when they are concerned that their minor relative is not receiving proper care.
State agencies may file for emergency custody of a child they believe to be in a dangerous environment. State agencies are able to place children with other family members or in foster care. These agencies go by different names in different states, including the Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services.
How Does the Court Decide to Grant Emergency Child Custody?
When the Court hears an emergency petition for child custody, it must decide if child custody should remain as currently ordered or if it should be modified. When making this decision, the court's paramount concern is the best interest of the child. To aid in making its decision, the court will consider different types of evidence, including:
- Witness testimony or affidavits
- Pictures and videos
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- State agency reports
Basically, the court will consider any evidence that helps inform it of a decision that reflects what is in the child's best interests. The court may also request specific information it feels is necessary to reach that decision.
Possible Challenges to an Emergency Child Custody Order in Pennsylvania
Filing for an emergency child custody order does have its challenges. First of all, there must be sufficient proof that an immediate change in custody is warranted. Also, when one parent has filed to have emergency custody granted to them, and they were never married to the other parent and no custody order exists, the court may be more reluctant to enter a temporary order. However, the court will order what it believes is in the best interest of the child.
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer in Pittsburgh Help in Emergency Situations?
A child custody lawyer can be instrumental in providing you with the advice and representation you need when your child, or a child you care for, is in an unsafe situation. At Rogers & Rogers, PC, we know the issues that qualify for an emergency hearing, and how to have the hearing scheduled. Our child custody lawyer will advocate for you in court and offer you the best chance of success.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Pittsburgh Today
If you fear for your child's wellbeing and safety while they are with the other parent and that fear can be supported by evidence, you may be able to obtain an emergency custody order. Contact Rogers & Rogers, PC today at (412) 434-7500 to schedule a Free Initial Consultation and to learn more about emergency custody situations. If your case demands it, we will help you move forward immediately.