The idea of your child being in danger is enough to cause your palms to sweat and your heart to race. You would never want anything to befall your child, and you undoubtedly feel — as many North Carolina parents do — that it is your job to protect your child as best as you can. While some parents have their children’s other parent to rely on as well, that is not the case for you. In fact, you may need to protect your child from his or her other parent.
Your first step toward that protection may have been to initiate divorce proceedings for the well-being of yourself and your child. However, you know that your child will likely have to spend time with the other parent as part of your custody arrangement. Is there anything you can do to prevent that?
Depending on the exact circumstances of your situation, you may have the ability to seek emergency custody of your child in efforts to keep the other parent away. However, emergency custody is not something the court allows lightly. A hearing must occur, and the focus remains on the circumstances that you believe warrant emergency custody. Particularly, an imminent risk of harm to your child must exist and could come in the form of any of the following examples:
- Your child is in danger of physical abuse.
- Your child is in danger of sexual abuse.
- The other parent is known to neglect the needs of your child.
- The other parent has threatened harm to your child.
- The other parent uses illegal substances or abuses alcohol in front of your child.
Even if you know at least one of these situations to be true, you still need evidence to support your claims at your emergency custody hearing. Evidence could be anything you feel proves the danger your child could face while with the other parent, such as text messages where the other parent threatened the child, witnesses who can testify to the other parent’s harmful behavior, photos showing injuries your child suffered at the hands of the other parent and more.
If the court issues an emergency custody arrangement, it is important to remember that the arrangement is only temporary. You will still need to attend any set court dates regarding custody arrangements in the future. It is possible that the court could end the emergency custody order at the time of the next custody hearing. However, the court should replace it with a permanent custody arrangement that suits the best interests of the child, which you can argue for in court.