There may be times when you need to petition the court for emergency custody in Georgia. It could be at the beginning of a divorce case or because you believe your child is in danger. 

The first step in getting emergency child custody is to meet with an experienced Lawrenceville child custody lawyer. The court only awards emergency custody in specific situations. You need an experienced lawyer who understands the law and the processes involved.

Filing for Emergency Child Custody in Lawrenceville, GA

In some situations, custody decisions need to be made quickly and without formal hearings. In those situations, Georgia courts can hold emergency hearings to decide temporary custody. 

Reasons a parent or other party might petition the court for emergency custody include:

  • To protect a child from being abused or neglected
  • To obtain custody of a child who has been abandoned
  • To stop a child from being removed from the state without permission 
  • To remove a child from exposure to substance abuse, including alcohol and illegal drugs
  • To remove a child from a home where domestic violence is occurring
  • To protect a child from dangerous people who have moved into the child’s home
  • To remove a child from an unfit parent

Emergency child custody hearings are held when a child is in imminent danger. Georgia Code §19-9-64 gives the court temporary emergency jurisdiction to decide these matters when a child is in the state and is subjected to abuse, mistreatment, or the threat of abuse.

What Happens at an Emergency Custody Hearing in Lawrenceville, Georgia?

In most custody matters, the parent filing for custody must serve the other parent with the court papers. That parent has the chance to file a response and appear in court to fight the request for emergency custody. The judge would listen to both sides and decide whether to grant emergency custody to the petitioning parent. 

However, in situations where taking time to hold a formal hearing could result in harm to the child, the court can schedule an ex-parte hearing. An ex-parte hearing is held without giving the other party notice of the court filing or the hearing. The judge makes a decision regarding emergency custody based solely on the allegations presented by the petitioner.

Ex-parte hearings are only granted in dire situations where a true emergency exists. The petitioning parent or party has the burden of convincing the judge the situation warrants an ex-parte hearing and emergency temporary custody. 

If a judge grants emergency custody by an ex-parte order, the court schedules a full hearing for a later date. The other parent is served with the temporary order, the petition for custody, and notice of the hearing. 

At the full hearing, both parties present their evidence. The judge may leave custody as granted in the emergency order or modify the custody terms. If the responding parent continues to dispute custody, the matter is scheduled for a trial.

How Does a Judge Determine Whether To Grant Emergency Custody in Georgia?

All custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child. Georgia Code §15-11-26 lists the factors judges use to determine what is in a child’s best interest regarding custody. Judges can also consider any other factors they deem relevant to determining the best interest of a child.

In emergency custody hearings, the judge must decide if the evidence proves the child is in immediate danger. Therefore, a party requesting emergency custody must have strong evidence of the threat. Evidence could include, but is not limited to:

  • Medical records show the child has suffered unexplained injuries
  • Affidavits from witnesses, including teachers, family members, coaches, or others
  • Police reports 
  • Voice records and text messages
  • Photographs and videos
  • Reports from child protective services 
  • Statements made by the child
  • Counseling and therapy records

It can be terrifying to know that your child needs to be removed from a situation and feel like you cannot do anything about it. However, there are provisions under Georgia custody laws for gaining emergency custody. 

Seeking legal advice sooner rather than later means you understand your legal options and the steps you should take to protect your child within the boundaries of the family court. A Lawrenceville child custody attorney can also advise you about things you can do to gather evidence and when it is necessary to get the police or child services involved.

Contact the Child Custody Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.