The law in North Carolina is that a parent may seek emergency custody in limited circumstances when there are extreme safety concerns or there is a risk that a parent will move or has moved the child from North Carolina to avoid this state’s jurisdiction.

In North Carolina child custody cases, emergency temporary orders may be entered upon the request of one party without the other party being present in court.  This is called an “ex parte” hearing and in this type of hearing only one side tells the court its version of events.

The ex parte order, if entered by the court, will be reviewed with notice and an opportunity for the other party to be present within ten days. Reasons for emergency custody are varied, for example, an ex parte custody order may be entered if a child is abandoned.  Another example where an ex parte order is appropriate is if the child has been a victim of physical abuse by a parent.

Many parents think that emergency custody can be sought in every situation; however, that is not the case. District court judges generally look very closely at applications for ex parte emergency custody and will refuse to enter an order unless the facts clearly rise to the level requiring the court to enter an order.

Judges look at ex parte applications for emergency custody and supporting affidavits closely because of the danger of abuse of the process when only one side gets to tell his or her story and because the relief that is being asked for usually involves a child being taken away from the other parent, frequently with the involvement of the police. If an ex parte emergency custody order is entered there will be a return hearing where both sides should be prepared to present evidence to the court.  In this hearing the plaintiff (the parent seeking emergency custody) will be asking for an order to remain in place.  The defendant will be arguing and presenting evidence that there is no emergency.

Frequently courts will use the return hearing to fashion a temporary order in an effort to add stability for the children and to establish a framework for the parents’ interaction. If you think your case has facts that justify a request for emergency custody, you should contact an attorney to assist you with evaluating the situation and get advice on how best to proceed.  If the facts do not support emergency custody, then it is always best not to file the emergency request and proceed with a custody request and set temporary child custody for hearing.

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Scott Allen handles emergency custody claims, child custody, and temporary custody hearings and has over twenty-three years of experience.   If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.  

Representation Matters

"Scott was wonderful throughout the long process and it was clear to me that Scott was knowledgeable of case-law and the Wake County Court system, as well as being especially strong in court. His representation resulted in additional parenting time following the temporary custody trial and since the case proceeded to a full trial, I was ultimately awarded the custody arrangement I was seeking. My daughters reside in Wake County and now if my ex-wife chooses to relocate, I’ll have full legal custody of the girls. Throughout the process, Scott was responsive, provided extremely helpful advice, and genuinely cared about the outcome of my case. I would strongly recommended Scott’s representation for custody matters."

Jon H

Cared About My Situation

I was out of options and Scott was there to help. I have spoken to or met many attorney's in Wake County and Scott was the only one that REALLY actually cared about my situation. It sounds cliche' but it's not. I could clearly tell that Scott had given a lot of thought to my case. Scott has extensive knowledge of the law. That knowledge coupled with his cerebral approach and courtroom presence were a savior. - Ken

Secured My Life

"Scott Allen and his team were sensational during my divorce proceedings. They kept me well-informed of the procedures, requirements, and options. They took the time to explain to me at every step of the decisions and options as we moved forward in my life. Their support, knowledge and presence were comforting in my time of need and help me get through the ordeal. While no divorce is pleasant outcome they help me secure my life and begin a new chapter with a fresh start. Their extensive knowledge of the law and arbitration and negotiation skills were invaluable in getting a good settlement and resolution. I am very pleased that I selected Scott and his team to represent me. I would emphatically recommend Scott and to anyone who is facing a divorce or possibility of a divorce."

Steven D

Fought for My Rights

I wanted to go to court and he went with it. During the initial hearing and all the subsequent hearings he fought for my rights and presented my case diligently and proved the claims by the other party to be false. Most of the lawyers, will tell you settle as it saves them and the court time, but it might not be always in your best interest. Scott is not those lawyers, he really cares about his clients and is not afraid to litigate or fight for his client’s right in the court. - Susan

I Began to Sleep Better at Night

Scott Allen took my divorce case after my first lawyer failed to stand for my rights.Scott took the case and I began to sleep better at night. My marriage ended from abuse so I was very weary. - Felicia