Brad Micklin’s webinar series has helped men and fathers in New Jersey understand divorce and family law for years. Recently, Brad decided to present a webinar answering a few of his followers’ questions about emergency custody of children. In case you missed the webinar, here are Brad’s answers to these great questions. This post focuses on how to determine whether it’s a good idea to seek emergency custody of your child. Don’t miss our other blog posts that answer more questions about how emergency custody works.
When is the right time to request emergency custody of your child?
Generally speaking, the moment that there is an emergency with your child is the time to do it. I’ll never tell a person or a client to wait to be tactical. I’ll never say, “Don’t, I’m worried about what the judge may think.” If there’s an emergency for your child, you must take immediate steps. That being said, if there is some chance for reflection or advice, you may want to speak to an attorney to determine whether or not it is emergent in the court’s eyes, if it’s likely to be granted, and what could be the possible ramifications of seeking an emergency custody application.
Why might a father seek emergency custody?
There are countless, countless examples of what could be emerging, but the legal standard for any emergency type of relief is immediate and irreparable harm to your child. One common example of immediate and irreparable harm would be if the other parent is taking the child out of the state or out of the country without your consent. If you have reason to believe that the child will not be returning, this is even more relevant. Any time a parent is taking your child out of this jurisdiction or out of this state without your consent could be considered emergent and is more often than not something a court will consider immediately.
Other issues that are commonly considered emergent would be medical issues. We’re just kind of emerging out of the covid quarantine and other related restrictions, when medical disagreements and issues that arose often had to be resolved by emergent application to judges in the family part. Additionally, corporal punishment, physical harm, and lack of school attendance are all issues that have been considered emergency custody issues in many circumstances. Again, anything that you feel is a harm to your child and that is immediate and if not stopped is irreparable, that is something that could be considered or something that you should consider seeking emergency custody for.
Can you request emergency custody if DCP&P is investigating the child’s living situation?
You can always file emergency custody if you believe that there’s an immediate and irreparable harm to your child, I don’t care who’s involved. You should never be dissuaded because there’s another state agency investigating. Now, a judge often will tell you that you need to go to DCP&P about the issue before bringing it to court because they were involved. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, and hopefully as the law evolves, judges will accept my view that DCP&P is not responsible for protecting your children. You are.
To delegate that to a state agency by a court is, I think, unconscionable. So while the common response in court is that if you thought there was harm to your child, you should have gone to DCP&P, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think you should be required to go to anybody other than a judge when it comes to your child. And then the court can decide whether they should get involved. But right now it’s backwards. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying because again, law evolves and every judge is different. Never bind yourself in advance by what somebody else may tell you to expect because you never know and you shouldn’t anyway when you’re dealing with potential harm to a child.
As I tell all my clients, family law is not a nine to five job; it’s five to nine. Especially with emergency custody, the issues often arise on a Friday night, Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve; this is when you need to reach your lawyer. Myself and my associates are always available in those times of need. If you need assistance with an emergency custody issue, you can contact us here.