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What you should know about Alabama emergency child custody orders

On Behalf of | May 1, 2023 | Child Custody |

When child custody orders are put in place as a couple separates or divorces in a contentious fashion, courts consider the best interests of the child. They also try to give both parents the opportunity to remain in their child’s life unless the child’s best interests demand an alternative arrangement.

There are times, however, when events warrant asking a court to take swift action to grant an emergency child custody order to give a co-parent or other family member the right to take sole, temporary custody of a child.

What does Alabama law say?

Under Alabama law, a court can issue an emergency order if the child is still in the state and “has been abandoned or…to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.”

If there’s no custody order yet in place, temporary emergency orders can stay in effect until and unless a different order is put in place. If the person endangering the child is doing so within the parenting time provided under a current custody order, that emergency order will remain in place until there can be a hearing and evidence is presented showing that a change to that order is needed.

Things can get more complicated if the child has been taken out of the state. However, states cooperate with each other in cases of parental abduction. If there’s an issue with a child being abused or neglected by both parents or their only available parent, a court can place the child someplace where they’ll be safe — preferably with a close family member. According to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), the preference is “that the family unit be preserved.” However, “out-of-home” care, such as in a foster home or group home, may be necessary – at least until a responsible family member or other adult can be found.

If your child or a child in your family is in immediate danger, your first step may need to involve calling law enforcement. If that’s not the case, but you believe an emergency custody order is warranted, your best first step is to get experienced legal guidance to help you seek an emergency custody order that can protect the child until an expedited hearing can be held.