This series discusses the ins and outs of requesting emergency child custody in New Jersey. To read the other articles, visit The Micklin Law Group’s blog.
When you file an emergent application, you’re usually going to have two stages to it. You’re going to have the initial filing where you want to ask for as much relief as you can, or ask for an expedited hearing, or at least emergent relief like stopping parenting time. Then you’re going to have to set relief that you’re going to ask the court to decide later. Here’s how those two stages work.
The Initial Expedited Hearing
The way it normally works when you file an order to show cause is that the court will read it immediately. That’s what they’re charged with. If they don’t find immediate or irreparable harm, they could deny it entirely. Otherwise, they could convert it to a motion and schedule it in the future, or they could grant it and let you be heard that day or very soon thereafter. If you are successful in getting an expedited return date, the court will take argument. At that hearing, the court may then deny the application entirely, schedule for motion, or give relief or schedule another hearing.
If you have a genuine emergent application, let’s say it’s drug abuse or parents fleeing the jurisdiction, something that you’re going to be fairly confident the court will address on an emergent basis, you will get an expedited hearing, hopefully in the next couple of days. Then you’ll get a second hearing when the other parent has been notified and has an opportunity to file papers and to be heard at length about the issue.
A Second Hearing
So, in short, there’s two stages to an emergent filing, and two things you want to get. You want to get an expedited hearing on that day or the next day, just to get the court’s attention and get the court involved. Then you want to get a hearing in the very near future to discuss the issues at length. That’s very important because if you ask for everything at the initial hearing and the court can’t grant it because it’s not emergent, often they’ll deny it completely. So what I usually try to do tactically is file the emergent application showing that all you want is an expedited hearing. All you want is to bring the other parent into court, physically or virtually, in two days so we can make sure to address this issue before the harm is exacerbated or the child experiences greater risk. That’s often a very good approach, especially if the relief you’re seeking is questionable.
If you’re initially presenting your case over something like Christmas parenting time, or not getting your vacation time with the child, it’s going to be flat out denied. It’s just patently unreasonable to take that severe of a position over an issue like a holiday. So you want to balance what you’re asking for at the initial request and a later request against the severity of the harm so that the court will be more inclined to give you relief. Remember this if the issue is not necessarily urgent or if it could be deemed questionable how urgent it is. You can always ask for your conditions later on.
I hope the information in this series about emergency custody is helpful as you work to keep your children safe and happy. If you would like to consult with my team to get even more information and receive case-specific counsel, you can give us a call. Our number is 973-562-0100. Regardless, I wish you the best of luck.