Child Allocation and Parenting Time Emergencies: The Basics

Many people are confused as to what constitutes a child allocation or parenting time emergency.  What is a child allocation or parenting time emergency?

You send your child for parenting time and the other person refuses to return the child.  They claim the child has been abused or neglected, or any other reason, and they are filing an emergency motion for a change of residency, and asking the court to restrict your parenting time?  Should you panic?

The first thing you should do is contact an attorney.  Even though you believe there is no merit to the allegations, you want to make sure that you properly address the allegations.  Going to court alone will more than likely make things worse, especially if the other parents has an attorney.  Many people have the erroneous idea that if they just go in and tell the judge their side of the story, the judge will see how ridiculous the other parent is being, and just throw out the whole case.  However, real judges, unlike television judges, have to actually follow the law.

The first thing the court has to determine is if this is an actual emergency. “Emergency” has a very specific meaning in family law, and the courts do not like it when parties file pleadings that actually are not emergencies just to harass the other party.  However, the court also has a duty to make sure that children are protected.  To determine if the matter is an actual emergency, the court will look at the allegations and the evidence of those allegations.  If your spouse alleges that the child came to visitation covered in bruises and that you spanked the child with a belt because he failed to do his homework, that might be considered an emergency.  If your spouses alleges that you refuse to allow your child to try out for cheerleading and that she really, really, wants to do it, and try-outs are two days away, the courts typically would not find this to be an emergency.

The court may feel that it needs additional information, in which case it might send the parties to  emergency intervention, or appoint an attorney for the child or a child’s representative.  If the allegations are serious enough and the court find sufficient evidence, the possession of the children may be given to the other parent on a temporary basis, pending a full hearing in the matter.

If you receive an emergency motion, it should be taken seriously.  Contact my office for the assistance you need.

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