What Is an Emergency Custody Order?
In California, an emergency custody order (ECO) is a court order that can be issued by a judge in an effort to protect a child's safety and welfare when there is an imminent or ongoing threat of harm. The court may also issue an emergency custody order if there is a risk that the child may be removed from the state without permission. An emergency custody order will remain in effect until a formal court hearing can be held to determine permanent custody arrangements.
Grounds for Emergency Custody or Visitation Orders
When a parent or guardian is concerned about the safety of their child, they may consider filing for an emergency custody or visitation order in California. It is important to note that California courts require you to have valid, legal grounds to request emergency custody orders.
The most common cases involve domestic violence or child abuse, but the court can also intervene when a parent has threatened to take the child out of state without permission when a parent has been arrested and cannot care for their child, or if there is evidence that one parent is not providing adequate care for their child.
Common grounds for emergency custody or visitation orders include:
- Domestic violence. If a parent believes their child is experiencing abuse at the hand of their other parent, they can file for emergency custody orders and temporary protective orders. If you or someone you know is being abused, help is available; call 800-799-7233 to confidentially speak with a National Domestic Violence Hotline representative.
- Child abuse or neglect. If you believe your child is being neglected or abused while in their parent’s custody, you can petition the court to help you remove your child from the home. Please be advised that if you believe that your child is in imminent danger, you should call emergency services.
- Substance abuse issues or other criminal activity. If either parent struggles with addiction issues or engages in criminal activities (i.e. driving while intoxicated, drug manufacturing, etc.), they may be arrested or placed in rehab. After such an incident, you can file for emergency orders and later to modify custody.
- Physical or mental health conditions. If a parent is struggling to handle their parenting responsibilities because of a health concern, the other parent may file for emergency custody orders.
- Questionable individuals in the home. While your child is in the other parent’s custody, you cannot control whom they invite into their home; however, if the other party is bringing sex offenders or others who present a danger to your child, you can petition for emergency custody orders to be put into place.
How to File for Emergency Custody in California
If you are a parent in California and need to file for an emergency custody order, it is important to understand the process and the forms that must be filled out. The process for filing for an emergency custody order is governed by California Rule of Court 5.151.
To begin the process, you will need to fill out two forms: Form #FL-310, Application for Order and Supporting Declaration, and Form #FL-330, Proof of Service Form. Once you have completed the forms, make copies of each form so that they can be served to the other parent. You will also need to fill out a Request for Order (form FL-300), which must be served on the other parent at least one day before the hearing.
When completing the documents, you will need to provide evidence that supports your claim that there is an immediate risk to your child's safety. This could include:
- police reports,
- medical records,
- statements from witnesses,
- emails, and
- text messages related to the case.
What Happens During an Emergency Custody Hearing?
Once you have submitted all of the necessary paperwork, you will need to file them at your local court clerk’s office. A hearing will then be scheduled where both parties can present their arguments before a judge. The court may also order a 730 evaluation from a mental health professional if necessary.
The judge will then decide whether or not an emergency custody or visitation order should be granted based on the evidence presented at the hearing. If granted, this type of order will remain in effect until a regular hearing can be held where both parties can present their case in full. It is important to note that these orders are only temporary solutions and do not replace any existing custody arrangements between parents.
An ECO may also include instructions from the court regarding visitation rights and restrictions. The order may require one or both parents or guardians to move out of the home, surrender firearms, or pay for counseling services for the child or parents.
Discuss Your Case with Our Attorneys Today
If you are considering filing for an emergency custody or visitation order in California, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected throughout.
With decades of collective experience, the attorneys at The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc are prepared to help parents with child custody matters, including the modification of orders and filing for emergency orders. We offer free initial phone consultations and high-quality legal counsel.
Contact us online or via phone at 949,577,793,500% to schedule an initial consultation with our attorneys today.