Most child custody cases take months, if not longer, to funnel through the North Carolina court system before a final custody decision is made. But what happens when there is an immediate need for a custody determination? The North Carolina Family Courts provide an avenue for relief: Emergency Child Custody.
Under the North Carolina Child Custody statutes, the court may award Emergency Child Custody if “the child is exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse or that there is a substantial risk that the child may be abducted or removed from the State of North Carolina for the purpose of evading the jurisdiction of North Carolina courts.” The parent seeking Emergency Child Custody must establish the substantial risk of injury or abuse or the substantial risk that the child may be removed from North Carolina for the purpose of evading the jurisdiction of the courts. If those can be satisfied, the court can granted the parent with exclusive custody and temporarily suspended visitation for the other parent.
Requests for Emergency Child Custody are different from normal custody cases in two key ways. First, a parent is able to bypass the normal court scheduling process. This simply means going to the courthouse and directly approaching your assigned Family Court Judge, or if he or she is not available, any other available Family Court Judge to hear your case. Second, immediate relief can be granted without first providing notice of your claim for Emergency Child Custody to the other parent. This is called ‘ex parte’ relief.
If the court grants an ex parte request for Emergency Child Custody (or even if they do not), a review hearing will take place usually within two weeks. The parent seeking Emergency Child Custody must provide notice to the other parent and both parties have the opportunity to appear and present their arguments. The Court can then extend the Emergency Child Custody ruling, or it can determine that an emergency situation no longer exists.
If you need to seek the immediate custody of your child, please call us today at (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.