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What Happens During an Emergency Child Custody Hearing in North Carolina?

An emergency child custody hearing in North Carolina does not happen just because one of the parties does not want to wait the usual amount of time for a hearing to get scheduled. An emergency child custody hearing is an unusual situation that does not tend to happen frequently. If you or someone else files a motion for an emergency child custody hearing, you need to know what to expect.

A North Carolina family law attorney can guide you through the process, advocate for you, and address the question of what happens during an emergency child custody hearing in North Carolina.

The Process of an Emergency Child Custody Hearing

Local rules might impose requirements on the procedures you must follow even before you can get in front of a judge on motion for an emergency child custody hearing. For example, you might have to prepare a written affidavit, verified and notarized, and attach the affidavit to the motion asking for an emergency hearing. You might have to try to contact the other party to give them notice of the motion and hearing, unless doing so is impossible or notice would make the situation more dangerous for the child.

Emergency hearings, by their nature, usually take place without one of the essential parties being present and having an opportunity to cross-examine witness, put on their own evidence, and argue their case to the judge. These hearings are “ex parte,” which means without one of the parties participating or being present. Because there is great potential for abuse of this person’s rights, emergency hearings are only granted in extraordinary circumstances, in other words, true emergencies.

If you have satisfied the requirements of the local rules and North Carolina law on emergency child custody hearings, you might get to have a brief ex parte hearing in front of the judge, but do not be surprised if the judge rules on the motion based entirely on the affidavit. The judge could:

  • Rule immediately, grant the motion, and issue an emergency child custody order.
  • Deny the motion.
  • Not rule immediately, but schedule a hearing on the motion on a later date.

If the judge grants the motion, the emergency child custody order is a temporary order that is effective only until there can be a hearing on the issue with all the parties present.

When a Motion for an Emergency Child Custody Order Is Appropriate

We have all heard stories about people calling 911 for frivolous things, like the pizza delivery person being late, which are not true emergencies. A motion for an emergency child custody order must be a true emergency order. At least one of these things must be true for a judge to grant a motion for an emergency child custody order in North Carolina:

  • The child is at substantial risk of sexual abuse or bodily injury, or
  • There is a substantial likelihood that someone is about to kidnap the child or take them out of state to try to take away the court’s jurisdiction over the child.

On the other hand, these are examples of things that are not emergencies for purposes of ex parte emergency child custody orders in North Carolina:

  • The other parent is about to take the child on vacation and you do not want them to go because the other parent is behind on child or spousal support.
  • The other parent is delinquent on their support obligation and you want the court to suspend their visitation until they become current.
  • You do not like the person your ex is dating, and you do not want them around your child.

You will want to work with a North Carolina family law attorney on your motion for an emergency child custody order. If you file a motion in a situation that a judge finds not to be an emergency or not based on truthful allegations, you could receive sanctions and have to pay the other party’s legal fees. Also, the judge will likely remember the situation when entering a permanent child custody order in your case. For help with your case get in touch with our office today, we gladly offer a free consultation.