Nothing is more frightening than worrying about your child’s wellbeing, especially when they are with someone else.
You may share possession of your child with the child’s other parent, but circumstances have changed, and now you believe your child may be at risk if they remain with that parent.
As a result, you may wonder how to file for emergency child custody in Texas.
Below is an overview of temporary emergency custody orders. However, filing for emergency child custody requires knowing the details of the legal process.
What Is an Emergency Custody Order?
When learning how to file for emergency custody in Texas, the first thing to know is that Texas law no longer uses the term child custody. Instead, the law refers to conservatorship.
In Texas, conservatorship cases are called Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). A SAPCR case decides who has the authority to make significant decisions in a child’s life and how possession of the child is allocated between the parents.
An emergency custody order either immediately changes a conservatorship order or removes the child from someone’s possession if there is no current order.
Normally, you’d file a motion to modify or change a conservatorship order. However, if a child’s health or well-being is at risk, time is of the essence.
Waiting for a judge to hear and rule on a motion to modify takes far too much time, so in the meantime, you can apply for an emergency order.
A court can issue temporary emergency orders quickly while the permanent issues are pending. The legal basis for immediately getting a temporary order is if “…the child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.”
The two primary types of emergency custody orders are temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions. You can typically only request these orders if you have an existing case or file a new SAPCR case.
Temporary Restraining Order
A temporary restraining order, or TRO, is a court order telling someone not to do something or ordering them to do something. For example, a TRO can order a parent to stop harming a child or to stay away from the child.
You can request a TRO in an emergency where a child is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed, and a regular protective order wouldn’t be more appropriate. You request a TRO “ex parte.”
That means you present evidence to the judge without first notifying the other parent. A TRO becomes effective as soon as the judge signs it. By law, it only lasts for 14 days and then expires, but can be extended upon a motion.
Within that time period, a judge will typically set a court date where both parents may present their cases. The judge will decide whether to extend the TRO into a temporary injunction at this hearing.
A temporary injunction is similar to a TRO in that it is a court order prohibiting someone from doing something or ordering someone to do something.
Unlike a TRO, however, a court will not grant this without first giving the other parent notice and the opportunity to present their own case. The court will then set a hearing date, typically within three days, to decide on the temporary injunction.
Additionally, if the court extends a TRO beyond the initial 14 days, the TRO often becomes a temporary injunction. This injunction stays in effect until the court approves or orders a new conservatorship plan.
Filing for emergency custody in Texas is not always the best or quickest option for protecting a child in immediate physical danger. If the child has been or will be the victim of a crime, call the police.
Your child can apply for a protective order if the person causing harm is a family or household member. A protective order, if granted, typically orders someone to stay away from them for up to two years.
Protective order applications require a lot of detailed information, which can be difficult for a party to figure it out on their own.
Consider consulting with a family attorney so they can help you compile the information you need to present your best case for a protective order.
Although a protective order may take precedence over another order. A protective order could form the basis for your request for a modification of an existing custody order.
Who Can File for Emergency Custody?
Anyone who can file a SAPCR case can file a motion for a TRO or temporary injunction. This includes the child’s parents, grandparents, adult siblings, aunts, and uncles.
Filing for Emergency Custody
You must file a motion for a TRO and temporary orders in an existing or new SAPCR case. You’ll need to prepare a motion for the temporary orders and TRO and an affidavit.
In the affidavit, you should explain why you need the temporary order, specifically that the child’s present circumstances will significantly impair their physical or emotional health. The affidavit must be notarized.
You file the motion and affidavit with the court clerk in the same county as your conservatorship case. You’ll then speak to a judge who will ask questions under oath.
Either the judge will grant the TRO and order the party to appear, or the judge will deny the TRO and just order the other party to appear for a hearing on your temporary orders request. You must have the order served to the other parent.
You’ll present your case at the next court date, and the judge will decide whether to issue the temporary injunction.
Getting a TRO and temporary order is not easy. You’ll have to prove to the judge why the current custody arrangement will harm your child. You should consult a family law legal team to make the best argument for your case.
Speak with The Larson Law Office PLLC for Emergency Custody Orders
How to file for emergency temporary custody in Texas is a complicated and emotionally overwhelming process.
Turn to professionals who understand the nuances of Texas emergency custody laws and will fight for your and your child’s best interests.