Emergency Child Custody in Maryland

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than believing your child is in danger. When the cause of the danger is your co-parent, however, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your child’s protection and may require an emergency child custody hearing to resolve the situation.

If you believe that your child is facing an immediate health or safety risk, you can request an emergency custody hearing by filing an emergency petition for child custody. The hearing will take place quickly – sometimes within a few days of the request; sometimes within hours following the request – which allows the court to make a quick decision regarding the child’s safety.

Reasons to request an emergency custody hearing

There are several different reasons for filing a petition for an emergency child custody order, including (but not limited to):

  • Abuse or neglect by the other parent or a member of the other parent’s household
  • Threats of abuse or violence by the other parent or a member of the other parent’s household
  • Alcohol or drug use and/or abuse by the other parent or a member of the other parent’s household
  • To avert a parental kidnapping
  • A conviction of child sexual abuse charges by the other parent or a member of the other parent’s household
  • Abandonment of the child
  • Changes in the safety of the other parent’s accommodations (utilities being turned off, risk of eviction, etc.)

Evidence to support your emergency petition

If the court consents, you and the other parent will be required to attend a hearing. The party filing the petition must have evidence to support the allegations, including:

  • Police report or an arrest record for the other parent
  • Records from Child Protection Services
  • Medical records for the child
  • Court records from previous protection order hearings
  • Evidence of the other parent’s alcohol or drug abuse
  • Evidence of domestic violence against the child, such as photos or videos
  • Records of previous convictions for the other parent

Understand that Maryland’s laws protect parental rights, so unless the child is in immediate danger of harm, or of being removed from the state permanently, it can be a challenge to obtain emergency custody. This is why having evidence is a critical part of the process.

How long does an emergency child custody order last in Maryland?

An emergency child custody order is a temporary change, which allows the court to quickly modify the custody order to protect the child’s safety. Before you can file an emergency custody order, you must have an open custody case. Once the final custody order is made in the case, the emergency custody order will expire.

If you are considering an emergency child custody order, you are facing a difficult situation for your child and yourself. Having an experienced Annapolis child custody lawyer from Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC on your side can help you move through the process quickly and smoothly, ensuring the safety of your child. To learn more about our services, or to reserve a consultation at our Annapolis office, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form.