Child custody can be challenging to resolve during a divorce or separation. In most cases, a parent petitions the court asking for custody or visitation, and the court schedules a hearing.

However, some situations require an emergency child custody hearing in Lawrenceville, Georgia. These hearings can differ significantly from regular custody hearings depending on the circumstances involved.

What Are Emergency Child Custody Hearings Scheduled in Lawrenceville, GA?

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-9-64 gives Georgia courts temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child who is present in the state if they are abandoned or need protection. The law recognizes that circumstances might require a judge to make a quick decision regarding child custody without a formal hearing. 

Examples of reasons why the court might schedule an emergency child custody hearing in Lawrenceville include, but are not limited to:

  • To remove a child from an unfit parent or legal guardian
  • To protect a child from being neglected or abused
  • To remove a child from a situation that involves domestic violence
  • To obtain jurisdiction and custody of a child that has been abandoned in Georgia
  • To protect a child from a dangerous person who has moved into the child’s home
  • To remove a child from being exposed to dangerous drugs, substance abuse, or severe alcohol use
  • To prevent a child from being removed from Georgia without permission (i.e., parental kidnapping)

If you believe a child is in imminent danger of harm or injury, contact the police immediately. Then, contact a Lawrenceville child custody lawyer to discuss legal options to obtain emergency child custody.

What Happens During an Emergency Child Custody Hearing in Georgia?

The purpose of an emergency hearing is to decide child custody on a temporary basis until the court can hold a full hearing on the matter. What happens during the emergency child custody hearing depends on whether the hearing is an ex-parte hearing or a regular hearing. 

Most child custody hearings are held after all parties receive notice. The court can shorten the notice period to protect the child. In these hearings, all involved parties have the right to appear and offer evidence related to child custody.

Alternatively, an ex-parte child custody hearing is held without giving the other parties notice of the hearing. For example, a father files a motion for an emergency child custody hearing because the mother is using illegal drugs and the child is in danger.

In that case, the court might sign an ex-parte order with or without a hearing. If the court holds an emergency hearing, the father appears with his attorney, but the mother is not notified of the hearing. The judge reviews the evidence and decides temporary custody based solely on the information provided by the father.

The court then schedules a full hearing for the mother to appear. At that time, the judge could continue the same terms of the emergency custody order or modify the terms based on evidence presented during the full hearing.

Ex-parte hearings and orders are only granted in extreme cases. Therefore, it is wise to work with an experienced Lawrenceville child custody attorney who can present your case compellingly to convince the judge the circumstances warrant an ex-parte emergency temporary child custody order. 

How Do Judges Decide Custody at an Emergency Child Custody Hearing in Lawrenceville?

All child custody decisions in Georgia are based on the child’s best interest. A judge must consider the evidence and decide what custody arrangement protects the child. 

Georgia law lists factors judges use to determine a child’s best interest. A judge uses those factors in regular and emergency child custody hearings. The code lists 19 specific factors, but a judge can consider other factors they deem relevant to decide a custody matter.

Evidence is crucial in an emergency child custody hearing. Examples of evidence used in emergency custody hearings include, but are not limited to:

  • Police reports and 911 calls
  • Medical records show a child has repeated unexplained injuries
  • Records and statements from a child psychologist and other experts
  • Reports and records from counselors, therapists, and medical doctors treating the child
  • School records
  • Testimony or affidavits from teachers, coaches, ministers, and other people involved in the child’s life
  • Videos and photographs
  • Documentary evidence, including text messages, notes, and emails
  • Social media posts
  • Statements made by the child

It is frightening to know your child is in danger. You might feel helpless and alone. However, there is help available by calling a Lawrenceville child custody attorney. 

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.