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Understanding Emergency Child Custody Orders in Arizona
An emergency child custody order is a court order granted to a parent upon filing a petition for emergency child custody based on circumstances that places the children in imminent danger of serious harm by the other parent.
If a parent believes the other parent has or will abuse a child, that parent needs to be thinking about getting emergency child custody orders in Arizona.
Parents have a constitutionally protected right to the care, custody, and control of their children. A court in a divorce or other family law case may issue orders providing for the amount of time each parent spends with his or her children.
There are circumstances, however, when a court can issue emergency child custody orders restricting or eliminating a parent’s right to spend time with his or her children.
Specifically, the basis for the emergency child custody orders must establish that parenting time with a parent will cause an imminent risk of serious physical, emotional, or psychological harm.
Basis for Requesting Emergency Child Custody Orders in Arizona
Typically, the allegations are based upon facts that demonstrate a parent has or is likely to abuse a child. Some of the things that constitute “domestic violence” under Arizona law may provide a basis for a court to issue an emergency child custody order in Arizona. The following list outlines all of the acts that are considered domestic violence in Arizona:
- Negligent Homicide
- Second Degree Murder
- First Degree Murder
- Threatening or Intimidating
- Aggravated Assault
- Custodial Interference
- Unlawful Imprisonment
- Sexual Assault
- Unlawful Disclosure of Pictures Depicting State of Nudity or Specific Sexual Activity
- Criminal Trespass
- Criminal Damage
- Interfering With Judicial Proceedings
- Disorderly Conduct
- Cruelty to Animals
- Preventing the Use of a Telephone to Make an Emergency Call
- Use of Electronic Communication to Terrify, Intimidate, Threaten or Harass
- Surreptitious Photographing, Videotaping, Filing or Digitally Recording or Viewing
- Abuse of a Child or a Vulnerable Adult
If an emergency child custody order is issued, the judge must determine the least restrictive way to protect the child from harm. This requires a judge to consider whether an order eliminating all contact between the parent and child or an order requiring all parenting time to be supervised.
Filing a Petition for Emergency Custody of a Child
The type of emergency child custody petition you file in Arizona depends upon whether child custody orders already exist. If they do not, you would need to file a petition for emergency child custody orders to have emergency orders issued by the court.
If child custody orders exist, you may file an emergency petition to suspend the other parent’s rights of parenting time under the existing child custody orders.
In either event, you must file a petition containing all of the allegations you believe support the contention that parenting time between a child and a parent places the child in imminent danger of serious harm.
That petition must be verified by you. The term “verified” simply means you sign an affidavit under the penalty of perjury that the allegations in the petition are true.
Notice Requirements for Filing a Petition for Emergency Child Custody Orders in Arizona
You or your attorney must then determine if the other parent will receive prior notice you are filing the emergency petition or whether they will not receive prior notice.
The other parent must receive prior written notice you intend to file an emergency petition unless you allege in your petition or affidavit that (1) giving prior notice to the other parent will place a child in imminent danger of harm and (2) a statement concerning what that harm may be to the child. This is referred to as an Ex Parte Emergency Petition.
Requirement to Also File a Separate Motion for Temporary Child Custody Orders
All emergency custody petitions must be accompanied by a separate Motion for Temporary Orders, a form of Emergency Child Custody Order for the judge to sign, and an Order to Appear on the motion for temporary orders.
The judge will review all of your documents and will do one of three things.
The judge can grant the emergency motion, the judge can deny the emergency motion, or the court can choose to schedule the issues listed in the emergency petition for expedited temporary orders hearing on the issues listed in the emergency petition.
Expedited Hearing Scheduled When Emergency Child Custody Orders are Entered in Arizona
If the court grants the emergency, the court will typically schedule a hearing within five days. Once granted an emergency child custody order, you will have to serve the other parent all of the documents through either a law enforcement officer or a private process server.
You will then have to appear at the scheduled hearing to present evidence supporting your allegations against the other parent. The judge will hear evidence from both parents and will decide to either continue the order in effect, terminate it completely, or modify it.
It is important to note the trial judge will, in most cases, apply the “best interest of the child” standard in normal circumstances. However, the Arizona Court of Appeals clarified in the case of Hart v. Hart that the court must apply a different standard if the judge issues an order terminating a parent’s visitation or order that visitation is supervised.
Arizona Emergency Child Custody Attorneys
If you have questions about emergency child custody orders in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child custody and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in child custody and family law cases.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your child custody or family law case around today.
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