Emergency Family Law Motions in New Jersey

Keeping the children safe is the number one priority for any parent. In an emergency situation, it’s extremely important to act quickly and efficiently to ensure that safety. In New Jersey, there are certain limitations that qualify as an emergency situation requiring immediate action. An emergency situation may impact your existing custody arrangement, so it is wise to know when an emergency supersedes court custody orders. To get a better understanding of these exceptions, you may wish to consult a dedicated custody lawyer.

What Qualifies as an Emergency Family Law Matter in New Jersey?

Emergency custody can be granted to one parent or another family member in the case that the child is being neglected or abused by their other parent. However, cases of neglectful behavior generally does not lead to a judge to granting emergency custody. Emergency custody can only be given if the child is put into a situation where they are in immediate danger and are at risk of serious threat.

This imminent threat or hazard could include both physical and psychological damage. Common situations that may lead to emergency custody orders could include:

  • Kidnapping
  • Child abuse
  • The arrest of a custodial parent
  • Unintentional neglect (often the result of addiction)
  • Housing problems
  • Immediate danger

General custody issues or minor financial situations do not count and will not qualify as an emergency in the state of New Jersey.

Filing for Emergency Custody

An “order to show” cause must be filed through the Family Court in the child’s county of residence in order to begin the process of emergency custody. This order is filed by a parent, guardian, or spouse against the other party, asking the court for an immediate change in custody. The court could then arrange for a hearing where the petitioning party must appear to “show cause.”

Generally, emergency custody cases are seen on the day they are filed or within a few days of the request. This “order to show” cause forces the parent being accused to show up in court to defend themselves. This differs from a regular child custody case, which are usually seen within a few weeks or months.

Parties Eligible to File for Emergency Orders

Legally, any concerned adult could file a temporary emergency custody order. Most often it is a parent filing the order against their spouse in order to place their child in temporary full custody with themselves. A teacher, grandparent, doctor, or any other concerned party in the child’s life may file a legal complaint towards a child’s parent.

Do You Want to File an Emergency Custody Order?

Navigating custody arrangements is always a complex process. In an emergency situation, the most important thing is keeping your child safe and getting them to a safe place as soon as possible. It may be beneficial to have an experienced attorney help you ensure that you can do everything possible to keep your child safe.

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