Understanding the Different Reasons for Emergency Custody

reasons for emergency custody

An estimated one out of every two children are children of divorce. When parents divorce, children undergo many hardships, not the least of which is watching parents come to a custody agreement.

Fortunately, many splitting parents are able to come to a shared parenting agreement. They continue to co-parent without letting their personal feelings toward each other get in the way.

This happy ending isn’t a reality for all families, however. If you’re concerned about the safety of your child when under the care of their other parent, you may need to learn the reasons for emergency custody.

Read on to learn when the court will allow you to take this drastic measure.

What Is Emergency Custody?

Under normal circumstances, parents can make a request to petition a custody agreement in court. This request may take days or weeks to process. The court date may not arrive in a speedy or efficient manner.

Under dire circumstances, parents can’t wait that long to fight for their right to sole custody over a child. When the other parent is presenting a clear threat to the child’s well-being, it is crucial that we provide avenues for an immediate change in custody.

This is where emergency custody comes into play. Emergency custody is a custody order that takes immediate effect and that the court grants at a much faster rate than typical custody agreements.

Reasons for Emergency Custody

When can a parent file for emergency custody? Let’s take a look at some of the most clearcut circumstances that warrant an emergency custody order.


You can file for emergency custody if your child’s other legal guardian is physically or sexually abusing your child. This is also true if the abuse is coming not from the legal guardian but from someone the legal guardian allows near your child, such as a step parent or roommate.¬†You can also file for an emergency custody order in cases of emotional abuse or neglect.


If your child’s legal guardian is abusing drugs or alcohol, you have grounds to file for emergency custody. Even without the presence of physical violence, substance abuse can lead to neglect and endangerment of a child. You can also file for emergency custody if the other legal guardian gets into legal trouble for substance use.


There is a common misconception that a parent or legal guardian can’t abduct a child. The truth is that there are many situations in which taking a child out of state or refusing to follow a custody agreement constitutes kidnapping. Learn more about parental kidnapping, one of the most complex reasons for emergency custody.

Talk to a Lawyer About Custody Laws

In some cases, adjusting the custody agreement or securing primary physical custody isn’t enough. Emergency custody orders allow one legal guardian to claim sole custody when circumstances become dire. If you believe you need emergency custody, talk to a lawyer right away.

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