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Emergency Child Custody in Virginia

Speak with an Honest, Accessible Fairfax Child Custody Attorney Mother and child reading together

A parent or guardian who is given full physical child custody of a child after a divorce or break up of the parents’ relationship is assumed to be the best candidate for raising and protecting that child. But sometimes that does not turn out to be true, or people change over time, and the child’s health and well-being are jeopardized.

In Virginia, if a child is at risk of being harmed by their parent, caretaker, or custodian, any person with a legitimate interest in the matter can use an emergency child custody petition to move that child temporarily to a safe location.

How Do Emergency Custody Orders Work?

A child’s best interests and health are always paramount, no matter the legalities involved in a particular situation. If a child is being hurt, Virginia law encourages people to take action and protect them. To this end, emergency child custody petitions were created to eliminate unsafe situations and house the child until a different custody arrangement is finalized.

People who can file for an emergency child custody order include:

  • Parents without physical custody rights
  • Stepparents
  • Grandparents
  • Older, adult siblings
  • Aunts, uncles, or older, adult cousins
  • Close friends of the family

Actions or behaviors that may validate the petition are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual molestation
  • Abandonment or neglect
  • Custodian is a drug or alcohol abuser

When an emergency custody petition is created, the subsequent hearing is often held a day or two later, as the child’s health may be in jeopardy. A judge overseeing the hearing will review the evidence presented to determine if danger actually does exist and if custody must be taken away from the current parent or guardian, and if it should temporarily be transferred to the petitioner.

Requesting Emergency Child Custody

It is useful to bring physical evidence to make an argument during an emergency custody hearing.

These include:

  • Police reports
  • Child’s medical/dental history
  • Guardian’s criminal record
  • Past records of abuse convictions
  • Records from Child Protective Services
  • Records from the child's psychologist (if applicable)

Note: If you believe that a child is in immediate danger of physical harm, you should first call the authorities to intervene before filing an emergency custody petition.

Get Legal Help for Your Family

Do you need help with an emergency child custody petition? Want representation at an upcoming hearing? Malinowski Hubbard and our Fairfax child custody attorneys handle emergency cases, providing trusted representation and compassionate legal counsel during this time of need.

Contact us online at your first opportunity to learn more about our services.

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