Can My Family Get Emergency Custody While I’m Deployed?

Question:

My wife let our children travel out of state to visit my family while I am deployed overseas so that she could take time to receive help for her various addictions.

I fear for my children’s safety while with their mother, and I do not want my family to return them to my wife when she is out of rehab.

What can I do to keep my children safe and with my family until I return home from deployment? Can my family apply for emergency custody of my children?

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Maryland divorce and child custody laws where I am licensed to practice.

With regard to your specific question about your family keeping your children until you can return home, in most states, the rights of parents supersede those of grandparents and other third parties.

So your wife could demand that the children be returned from their vacation with your family. If your family refused to return the kids, your wife could call the police and ask that the police force the return of the children since her rights to the children trump those of your family.

Alternatively, your family can file a petition while the children are still in their state, seeking emergency custody of the children. That state would have temporary emergency jurisdiction over the children for this emergency situation under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

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UCCJEA and Child Custody

Judges will usually only grant temporary emergency custody in extreme situations. Your family will need to prove to the judge that there is immediate and present danger of abuse and an award of temporary custody is necessary to protect your children.

If your wife does take the children back to her state, your family could file an emergency custody petition in your wife’s state, alleging that your wife is unfit to have custody, you are currently deployed and your family should be awarded temporary custody of the children until you return.

The judg may give your family a temporary custody order if the judge finds the children are exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse or if there is a substantial risk that the children may be abducted or removed from the state.

Your family should also consider contacting Child Protective Services (CPS) in the state the children live. CPS will conduct an investigation regarding the suspected abuse. Your family should communicate all of their concerns to CPS, including the neglect and your wife’s suspected drug use.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Maryland Divorce Lawyer Sara L. Schwartzman, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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