Illinois law allows either parent to file a request for an emergency custody order if they fear for their child’s health and safety.
Divorce can take a toll on everyone, especially your children. In a high-conflict divorce, your child could be exposed to a highly harmful environment. It’s crucial to shield your child from harm and ensure their best interests remain your top priority. If you have proof that your ex is risking your child’s safety, you can file an emergency custody order in Illinois.
Filing an emergency custody order is serious. You should be represented by an experienced lawyer who can walk you through the process. At Vantage Group Legal Services, we offer affordable subscription-based legal services. We will match you with an in-network attorney who will represent you in your time of need.
What Is an Emergency Custody Order?
An emergency custody order temporarily awards custody—called parenting time and parental responsibilities in Illinois—to one parent if the court believes the child’s well-being is at risk. It is not an order of protection and will not restrict the other parent’s access to see their child. In some cases, the filing parent might also need to file an order of protection. An emergency protection order will stop the other parent from having access to their child. Protection orders will last up to 21 days.
The parent seeking emergency custody must try to notify the other parent about the request and hearing details. An emergency custody order is enforceable once the other parent is on notice of the details. During the emergency custody hearing, the court will also set another court date down the line. This hearing will decide whether the emergency custody order should continue or end.
How Does an Emergency Custody Order Differ from a Temporary Custody Order?
A standard temporary custody order in Illinois differs from an emergency custody order. With a motion for temporary custody, you must serve the other party and schedule a hearing. An emergency order can include both parents if possible. Otherwise, it could be held “ex-parte.” That means the other parent might be unable to explain their side of the story. Emergency orders require the filing parent to make a reasonable attempt to reach the other parent, such as e-mail, text, or phone call.
An emergency custody order in Illinois requires a cause, such as fear for the child’s safety. Anyone can file a temporary custody order as part of the divorce proceedings. Having evidence of the abuse, neglect, or another reason for filing is crucial.
The potential downside of emergency protection orders held ex-parte is when an unscrupulous parent tries to file an emergency custody order out of spite. There is no danger or risk, but the filing parent wants to hurt the other parent. In different situations, a parent might mistake something for an emergency that is genuinely not. It’s up to the judge to decide what qualifies as an emergency. One judge might rule that it is an emergency, while another judge would not.
Grounds for Emergency Custody Orders
As we mentioned, you must have grounds to file an emergency custody order. Examples of situations that could warrant an emergency custody hearing include:
- Your ex is trying to cross state lines with your children to deprive you of parent time;
- Your ex is not giving your children their necessary medications, putting their health at risk;
- Your child is scheduled to go on a trip with your ex and their new partner, who happens to be a convicted child molester;
- Your child is being neglected or abused; or
- Your ex leaves your young child unattended at home for long hours or even overnight.
When a parent attempts to cross state lines with a child, it will involve federal laws, such as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Factors That Impact a Temporary Custody Order
When judges hear temporary custody motions, they look at multiple factors before deciding. Some of these factors are:
- What each parent wants (may not apply in an emergency custody hearing);
- What the child’s wishes are, depending on their age and maturity level;
- Whether the child is already well-adjusted in their home, community, and school;
- Whether there is evidence of neglect or abuse in the house;
- Each parent’s ability to support a meaningful relationship between the child and other parent; and
- The well-being and health of all parties.
When filing an emergency custody order in Illinois, you need proof of the situation before the judge considers granting it.
How Marital Status Can Affect a Custody Matter
The law views married parents slightly differently than unmarried couples embroiled in a custody battle. Married couples are deemed to have shared custody, which means neither parent can take the child from the other parent. For unmarried parents, paternity must be proven, or the mother will have sole custody.
An unmarried parent seeking custody must first establish there is a parent-child relationship. Ways to establish a parental relationship include providing evidence that:
- You gave birth to the child or there’s a valid surrogacy agreement;
- You have an existing court order establishing paternity;
- You legally adopted the child;
- You were married to or in a civil union with the child’s mother when the child was born, shortly before, or shortly after (the statute defines the required timelines); or
- You voluntarily acknowledged paternity.
Once you have the necessary information to establish a parent-child relationship, you can move forward with an order for custody.
Contact a Qualified Illinois Child Custody Lawyer Right Away
If you have concerns about the health and safety of your child, contacting an attorney is crucial. At Vantage Group Legal Services, we make it affordable to get the skilled legal representation you need. Family custody matters and emergency custody orders in Illinois can be complicated. It would be best if you did not attempt to pursue a custody order without a legal advocate on your side.
Our in-network lawyers are here to support you and protect your family. We will answer all your questions and help you with the necessary paperwork. Contact us to schedule a no-pressure consultation with one of our attorneys. When your child’s safety is at risk, let Vantage Group Legal Services help.