What happens after emergency child custody

What Happens after emergency custody is granted?

An emergency custody order is temporary and designed to address immediate threats to a child’s safety. The process is meant to be quick in order to avoid or minimize any harm to the child. Therefore, it is crucial that you prepare yourself for what happens after emergency custody is granted. Understanding the steps and procedures that follow can help you get through the situation effectively and ensure the best possible outcome for the child. This article will guide you through the specifics, helping you know what to expect and how to prepare for the subsequent court proceedings.

After Emergency Custody is Granted

Immediately after emergency custody is granted, the requesting party will have immediate, temporary custody of the child. The emergency orders usually remain in effect until this court hearing, which is typically within 20 to 25 days of granting the emergency custody order. During this hearing both parents can present evidence and arguments for a longer-term custody arrangement.

Service of Orders

After emergency child custody is granted, the order must be served to the other parent, typically along with notice of the upcoming full hearing. This ensures that both parties are aware of the temporary arrangement and the need to appear in court. Because emergency custody orders are urgent, the court may set specific timelines for serving notice to the other parent. Typically, this should be done as soon as possible, often within a day or two after the order is issued.

If personal service is not possible, alternative methods like substituted service (leaving the papers with someone at the other party’s home or workplace and then mailing a copy) may be used, but this typically requires court approval.

In some cases, if there is a significant risk of harm to the child or the requesting parent by providing notice, the court can waive the notice requirement temporarily. This is typically addressed in the initial ex parte request.

How to Assume Custody After Emergency Custody is Granted

Once emergency custody is granted, the party who is awarded custody needs to take specific steps to ensure the safe retrieval of the child. Retrieving a child after being granted emergency custody requires careful planning, legal compliance, and often the involvement of law enforcement to ensure the process is conducted safely and smoothly. Here’s a detailed guide on how to go about this process:

  1. Obtain Certified Copies of the Order –Immediately obtain certified copies of the emergency custody order (Form FL-305) from the court. You may need multiple copies for various parties such as law enforcement, schools, and other relevant institutions.
  2. Prepare Documentation – Have all necessary documentation ready, including the emergency custody order and any other relevant court documents (such as Form FL-300 and supporting declarations).
  3. Coordinate with Law Enforcement – In many cases, involving law enforcement can ensure the safe and smooth retrieval of the child. Contact your local police or sheriff’s department, explain the situation, and provide them with a certified copy of the court order. They can accompany you to retrieve the child to prevent any potential conflict or complications.
  4. Notify the Other Parent – If the order does not explicitly waive notice, inform the other parent about the emergency custody order. This can be done through personal service or another legally acceptable method, ensuring you have proof of notification.
  5. Visit the Child’s Location – Go to the child’s current location, which could be the other parent’s home, school, daycare, or another place where the child is present. Ensure you bring a copy of the emergency custody order and, if applicable, law enforcement officers.
  6. Communicate Calmly and Clearly – When retrieving the child, communicate calmly and clearly with the other parent or any caregivers. Show them the emergency custody order and explain that you have been granted temporary custody by the court.
  7. Involve Third Parties If Necessary – If the child is in a third-party location, such as a school or daycare, present the custody order to the administrators and explain the situation. Schools and daycares typically require legal documentation to release the child to someone who does not usually pick them up.
  8. Maintain Records – Keep detailed records of the retrieval process, including dates, times, locations, and the names of individuals involved. Document any interactions with law enforcement or other parties.

What if the Other Party Refuses?

If the other parent resists handing over the child, do not engage in a confrontation. Instead, seek assistance from law enforcement to enforce the court order. It would also be smart to contact a child custody attorney if you have not done so already. If there are concerns about the safety of yourself or the child, always involve law enforcement from the outset.

How do I make Emergency Custody Permanent?

After emergency custody is granted, the court will schedule a full hearing, usually within 20 to 25 days, to determine the long-term custody arrangement. This hearing is crucial for both parties to present their cases and evidence. To gain permanent custody after emergency custody is granted, you will need to present your case in the follow-up hearing.

  1. Contact a child custody attorney – Given the complexities of custody cases and the high stakes involved, it’s often beneficial to consult with or hire a child custody lawyer. They can help through the legal process, prepare your case, and represent your interests in court.
  2. Prepare for Full Hearing:
    • Gather Evidence: You will have already collected some evidence to win emergency custody. However, if possible, you should continue gathering evidence that supports why permanent custody is in the best interest of the child. This can include evidence of ongoing issues with the other parent, the child’s improved well-being under your care, and any relevant new information since the emergency order was granted.
    • Witnesses and Documentation: Prepare witness statements or documentation from teachers, doctors, therapists, or others who can testify about the child’s best interests.
  3. Attend the Full Hearing:
    • Both parents will have the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. The court will consider factors such as the child’s safety, stability, and overall best interests. Be prepared to present your case clearly, showing why permanent custody with you is in the best interest of the child. Highlight any concerns about the other parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment, calling on the witnesses, documentation and evidence you collected prior to the hearing. 
  4. Court Decision:
    • The judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented. If the court finds that permanent custody with the requesting party serves the best interests of the child, it will issue a new custody order reflecting this arrangement.

What if I Don’t Want Custody to be Permanent After Emergency Custody is Granted?

Depend on the reason for emergency custody. You might not want the orders to become permanent. For example, if you only took emergency custody because of a parent’s temporary incapacitation due to medical reasons. In this case, you would likely want to the parent to regain custody once they have recovered. 

Even if the person granted emergency custody does not want to make the arrangement permanent, they must still attend the full hearing. At the hearing, you will need to explain the reasons for the initial emergency custody request. You could also present evidence that the other parent is now capable of resuming custody and request that the court revert to the original custody arrangement now that the emergency has passed and the other parent is able to care for the child again.

Temporary Arrangements

If the other parent is still recovering or there are ongoing but temporary issues, you could propose a temporary custody arrangement until the parent fully recovers. This can include supervised visitation or gradually increasing the other parent’s time with the child. The court may decide on a modified temporary arrangement that gradually transitions the child back to the original custodial parent, ensuring a smooth adjustment period.


After emergency custody is granted, the temporary order remains in effect until a full hearing is held. If the person granted emergency custody wants to make the order permanent, they must prepare evidence and possibly seek legal representation to modify the existing custody arrangement formally. If they do not seek to make the arrangement permanent, they must attend the hearing to explain the temporary nature of the custody and request a return to the original custody arrangement. Whether you seek to make the emergency custody order permanent or to revert to the original custody arrangement once the other parent is capable, being well-prepared and possibly consulting with a child custody lawyer will help ensure the best outcome for the child.


you cannot afford a lawyer, you can seek help from legal aid organizations, which provide free or low-cost legal services to those in need. Additionally, many courts have self-help centers that can provide guidance on how to fill out and file the necessary forms for emergency custody. Resources like online legal forms and instructions from the California Courts website can also be helpful.

Yes, the court can grant emergency custody even if the child is in another state, particularly if the situation involves imminent danger to the child. However, enforcing the order across state lines can be complex and may require coordination with courts in the other state. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) provides guidelines for such situations.

o ensure compliance with the emergency custody order, provide the school or daycare with a certified copy of the court order. Meet with the administrators to explain the situation and ensure they understand who is legally authorized to pick up and care for the child. Keeping open communication with these institutions can help avoid confusion and ensure the child’s safety.

Emergency custody is unlikely to be granted based solely on allegations without supporting evidence. The court requires clear and convincing evidence of immediate harm or risk to the child to issue an emergency custody order.

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