How to get emergency custody of a child? A Florida Family Attorney Shares his Experience.2018-10-23T21:44:14+00:00

How to get emergency custody of a child?

Emergency Child Pickup Order

If you’re asking “how do I get emergency custody of a child,” you should learn whether a Child Pickup Order is appropriate.  A child pick up order is generally issued in response to an emergency motion filed by someone with pre-existing legal rights over the child in question when the child is being prevented from returning to their rightful custodian.  Most often the opposing party is not notified of the proceedings. To be considered an emergency, there must be some legal basis- generally a custody order or a biological parent who had the child in question out of wedlock when there is no court document establishing another individual’s parental rights.  Although we are Tallahassee family law attorneys, we have obtained child pick up orders for children to be picked up throughout Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.  In tis video, one of our family lawyers, Bryan Hesser, discusses his experience regarding obtaining an order granting emergency custody of a child?

Is it truly an Emergency?

When granting child pick up orders, Florida courts are quite rigorous in their demands for appropriate justifications and proper paperwork, mostly out of respect for the other party’s right to due process, which allows the them to present their side of the story. Thus, it falls on the person requesting the order to prove that the situation is a true emergency, and merits the immediate forceful removal of the child. These factors make emergency relief somewhat rare, which is why it is vital you contact a competent lawyer to guide you through the process.

In What Settings are Child Pickup Orders Entered?

These orders are more likely to be issued in cases of setting a temporary parenting plan, if a parent fails to return a child as the court mandated, domestic violence, or sudden proof of substance abuse, neglect, or rape. However, the court will take into account when the evidence emerged; for example, if you’ve known neglect was occurring for months, the court may consider you don’t believe it to be an emergency, and will allow the other parent to defend themselves. On the other hand, if you suspected it but lacked proper evidence until that moment, the court is likely to issue the order immediately.

How to get emergency custody of a child?

The most common type of orders requested and issued are called “Emergency Verified Pick Up Orders.”  These occur when a parent with visiting rights or some physical custody fails to deliver the child at the appointed time. In this event, especially if there is a suspicion that such parent might have taken the child away, the pick up order is rapidly issued, and local law enforcement (usually the sheriff’s office) go to retrieve the child. As you might expect, the situation becomes more problematic when the child is across county, or even state lines, as the cross-jurisdictional factor is added. If this situation was to happen, the other parent would likely be punished by the court, perhaps by restricting their future visiting time. As was previously stated, in order to request this you do need court documents stating your custodial or time sharing rights to the child in question or to be a mother who bore the child out of wedlock and has not established the father’s legal rights.

Serving the Child Pickup Order?

Once the Court issues the Order, it must be executed (i.e. enforced).  It is important not to assume that just because an Order has been issued by the Court that it will be served on the person who is withholding custody.  Some courts will ensure the local sheriff or other appropriate law enforcement agency gets the Order.  However, often you will need to take a certified copy of the order directly to the law enforcement agency where the child is located and have an officer assigned to accompany you to the child’s location and enforce the order (deliver the child into your custody).

Is a Child Pickup Order the best option?

In the family law context, a child pickup order is often the last resort.  Generally, it should only be sought after attempts to communicate between the parties have failed.  And as with all situations involving child custody, the potential trauma of involving law enforcement in a matter between the child’s parents should also be weighed against the benefit of protecting the child and the parents’ custody rights.

Should I use a lawyer?

Regardless of the situation, it is imperative you seek legal counsel to maximize your chances of the order being issued to get emergency custody of a child.  Obtaining the child pick up order is not always the hardest part.  Tallahassee family law attorneys can struggle providing guidance on dealing with out-of-town or out-of-state law enforcement agencies to ensure the pick-up order is executed as ordered.  It is important to have an attorney with whom you have a good rapport and who has a staff available to assist you if he or she is in court or otherwise unavailable.