I’m worried that my children’s mother is abusing them. How do I know if there is just cause to ask for an emergency custody hearing?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Where I do practice in Pennsylvania, there are 16 factors that the court must consider when determining the best interest of the children and the subsequent custody arrangement, with weighted consideration to those factors that involve the safety and well-being of the children.
Not only will the court look at these factors as they relate to the parents, but also as they relate to anyone else who is living in the same household as the parents.
If a situation arises where the children may be placed in immediate physical danger, a parent may seek emergency and interim relief from the court. Each county in Pennsylvania has its own unique process for seeking emergency relief, so it would be best to talk to an attorney who practices in the county where relief is sought to get a sense of what is required for filing and how the process will unfold.
Another option is to seek a protective order under the Protection from Abuse Act (or “PFA”) on behalf of the child due to, among other things, domestic violence. Such a PFA action must be against someone who is in the same household as the child.
At the conclusion of the final PFA hearing the judge may issue a final order that can last for up to three years. With a PFA order, there are several remedies that may be ordered by the court. Usually there is an order that the respondent not abuse, harass or stalk the protected child. Other actions include an order that the respondent be removed from the house where the parties live.
Due to the extremely sensitive and fact-specific nature of this situation, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who handles family law matters in your jurisdiction, such as Cordell & Cordell, to see how your state’s laws can help you with this serious situation. This type of attorney should be helpful in providing you specific assistance for your matter so that you can do what is in the best interests of your child.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.