A child custody agreement is a legally binding contract between two divorced parents regarding how they will split up custody of their child. When parents agree that a situation isn’t working for them, they may ask the court to modify the order to accommodate new terms. If the child is in immediate danger or one parent is unable to provide a safe, stable home, there may be what is called an emergency child custody modification. Here are seven things to keep in mind if you are faced with requesting an emergency child custody modification for your child.
Know What an Emergency Child Custody Hearing Entails
In a routine emergency child custody modification case, the parent requests the modification and presents the reason for the requested modification, as well as why it is deemed an emergency. It is important to keep in mind that since this is an emergency request, you may only get a few minutes with the judge to plead your case. If you do not clearly explain the nature of the emergency, the judge may deny your request. This is why many parents consult a family law lawyer to assist with the emergency child custody modification process.
Understand Why the Hearing Happens
The request for emergency child custody modification may occur for any number of reasons, but the reason must be severe. You cannot request an emergency modification for reasons that do not pose potential harm or neglect to the child. A few of the most common reasons for an emergency child custody modification include: the other parent being arrested for a violent crime, the other parent being arrested for a crime implying they lack the mental capacity to care for the child, the parent is arrested while the children are in their custody, and finally, an investigation has been initiated on the basis of neglect or abuse.
Use the Right Form and Information for Modifying in Indiana
In order to request an emergency child custody modification in Indiana, there are certain required aspects you must file as part of the request. You will need a blank petition request wherein you give detailed description of the nature of the emergency. It should include the reasons you believe the child is not safe with the other parent, including how this may negatively impact the child and your relationship with your child.
Know What Substantial Change Means
A substantial change in circumstances needs to be proven to the judge as a way of convincing them to approve the modification. A substantial change is something that makes it clear the other parent is not able to care for the child as agreed upon in the original court order. For example, being arrested for a violent crime shows a potential for violence that wasn’t there when the original court order was put in place and is therefore a substantial change in circumstance.
Follow All Court Orders
Whatever the judge decides regarding the modification, you must follow the court order. If they decide the other parent is not a threat to the child or that they are still able to care for the child, you must meet the custody terms of the original court order. If you violate the order, you may end up in trouble yourself. If you do not agree with the judge’s decision, you should seek legal counsel from a child custody lawyer.
Watch Out for Signs of Trouble
It can be difficult to respect the original court order when you fear your cild may be in danger with their other parent. While working on a legal solution to the problem (such as a non-emergency child custody modification), you can watch out for further signs of trouble. For instance, if your co-parent was arrested and the emergency request was denied but then they miss their court hearing or violate probation, this would be new information the judge may need to consider.
Seek Legal Counsel Early
Once there are evident problems with the other parent to the point you are considering asking for an emergency modification, you should seek legal help. Many parents fail to receive an emergency modification because they do not know what information to present to the judge and how to present it in the limited time they have with the judge. A child custody lawyer will be better equipped to handle this task while also helping with the long-term arrangements of modifying further custody orders.