Emergency custody may be necessary when a child is in immediate risk of harm or being taken out of the state. However, another parent may try and use emergency custody orders as a weapon in a child custody dispute. Whether seeking emergency custody or challenging an emergency custody order, it is important to have an experienced child custody lawyer on your side to fight for your rights and protect your child. If you have any questions about emergency custody in Missouri, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today.
Emergency Child Custody
In Missouri, the courts consider “joint custody” to be in the best interests of the child. Child custody orders generally provide for joint custody when parents can agree on a parenting plan. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, the court may decide custody and visitation.
However, when there is an immediate threat of harm or abuse, a parent can seek an emergency protection order to protect the child. Under the Missouri Child Protection Orders Act, a person can seek a protection order on behalf of a child who is the victim of abuse or assault.
A protection order is filed on behalf of a child by a parent, guardian, guardian ad litem, juvenile officer, or court-appointed advocate.
The respondent is generally a family member or household member who is alleged to have committed an act of domestic violence, or someone who has committed an act of stalking or sexual assault. In child custody situations, the respondent may be the other parent or other individuals in the parent's household, such as a partner or other child.
Ex Parte or Full Order of Protection
Most protection orders for children are issued as an ex parte order, where the court issues the order before the other party has had a chance to respond to the allegations. Ex parte orders will expire after 15 days if there has been no hearing or continuance. A full order is granted after the respondent generally has notice and an opportunity to be heard.
Protection Order Restrictions
Once an order of protection is issued for a child, the respondent may be subject to a number of restrictions. A full order of protection can be issued for between 180 days and up to one year, subject to renewals. Restrictions may include:
- Prohibit the respondent from committing or threatening to commit domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, molesting or disturbing the peace of the child victim.
- Prohibit the respondent from entering the family home of the child victim.
- Prohibit the respondent from communicating with the child victim in any manner or through any medium (including social media).
- Establish a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent that is in the best interest of the child, including denying visitation if it would endanger the child's physical health, emotional development, or otherwise conflict with the best interest of the child.
- Prohibit possession of any firearm or ammunition.
Challenging Emergency Child Custody
Another parent may also claim the child is subject to abuse because of an accidental injury, like falling off a bike, a sports injury, or roughhousing with other children. Similarly, reasonable discipline, including spanking, is generally not considered abuse, even if the other parent disagrees with the discipline.
It is difficult for a parent to be accused of abuse by the other parent. Innocent parents may be accused of abuse in a messy divorce or child custody dispute. Any claim of abuse should be taken very seriously. Talk to your family lawyer about allegations or accusations of abuse to protect yourself and your rights to see your child. Do not take matters into your own hands, which could make things worse.
Do Not Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
A parent may be tempted to handle a perceived emergency on their own instead of going through the courts. However, keeping your child away from the other parent, taking your child out of state, or violating custody or visitation orders could result in criminal charges.
Interference with custody involves taking from legal custody any person entrusted by order of a court to the custody of another person or institution. The more serious charge of parental kidnapping involves the removal of a child within or without the state, without good cause, and with the intent to deprive the custody right of another person or a public agency also having a custody right to that child.
Emergency and Temporary Child Custody and Protection Orders
If you have any questions about emergency child custody orders or defending yourself against abuse charges, talk to your Missouri family law attorney. Your lawyer can advise you on the best option for your situation to protect your rights and provide for your family. Contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm in Raymore online or by calling (816) 331-9968.