During Bergen County, New Jersey, divorce cases, parties often fight about child custody. In most instances, the court awards temporary custody pending a final hearing. However, there could be situations during a divorce proceeding or outside of a divorce action when a parent needs to seek emergency custody in New Jersey.

Filing for Emergency Child Custody in Bergen County, New Jersey

A parent must file a motion with the court for an Emergent Hearing. An Emergent Hearing is held if urgent issues could impact the child’s safety or well-being. The motion for an emergency hearing is called an Order to Show Cause.

The motion must contain sufficient information to convince the judge there is a justifiable reason for scheduling an emergency hearing. Typically, New Jersey judges grant emergency hearings when:

  • There is a threat of imminent harm to the child if the court does not act immediately
  • A parent has a history of domestic violence, or there are credible allegations of violence or abuse
  • A parent is considered a flight risk and could remove the child from the state 

If the judge does not believe the grounds stated in your motion justify an emergency hearing, the motion is placed on the court’s regular hearing document.

What Happens at an Emergency Custody Hearing in Bergen County?

At the emergency hearing, the judge considers the evidence presented by both parties. If the judge finds sufficient reason to believe there is just cause for the allegations, the judge can grant temporary emergency custody to the petitioning parent.

However, the order is temporary. It remains in effect until the court conducts a full hearing and a more thorough investigation. Therefore, the judge could change custody terms at the final hearing.

Filing a Motion for an Ex-Parte Emergency Custody Hearing

Most pleadings filed with the court must be served on the opposing parties in the case. Therefore, if you file a motion for emergency custody, your child’s other parent receives notice of the emergency hearing. They can appear and argue against awarding you sole custody.

However, some situations justify an ex-parte hearing. An ex-parte hearing occurs without giving notice of the hearing or the motion to the other parent. The judge decides the matter without input from the child’s other parent. 

Judges take ex-parte requests very seriously. If granted, the ex-parte order denies the other party from being heard. Therefore, judges are hesitant to grant ex-parte requests without good cause.

Reasons for Holding an Ex-Parte Emergency Custody Hearing in Bergen County, New Jersey

Ex-parte emergency child custody hearings are used to protect children. A judge might grant an ex-parte custody order when there is a risk of immediate or permanent harm.

New Jersey court rules state interim relief and temporary restraints cannot be granted without a full hearing unless the other party is notified of the motion or consents to the relief requested. Therefore, you have the burden of proving that irreparable and immediate damage will likely occur if the court does not rule on the motion quickly.

For example, the other parent is highly likely to take the child and flee if the motion is placed on the regular docket and the parent receives notice of the motion. Another example of irreparable and immediate damage would be credible allegations of sexual abuse of the child. Likewise, providing sufficient evidence the parent has a severe addiction to alcohol or drugs could warrant an emergency ex-parte hearing to protect the child.

How Does a Judge Decide Whether To Grant Emergency Custody in New Jersey?

New Jersey judges are required to decide custody matters in the best interest of the child. Child custody laws provide factors the court must consider when deciding custody cases. Those factors include:

  • A child’s special needs
  • History of physical abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or other issues related to the child’s safety
  • The child’s relationship with their parents and siblings
  • The quality and amount of time each parent spent with the child before now
  • The distance between the parents’ homes
  • A child’s reasonable preferences if they are mature enough to make those decisions
  • A parent’s ability and willingness to care for the child
  • The stability of the home environment 
  • A parent’s work responsibilities
  • The fitness of each parent to have custody
  • The willingness of each parent to cooperate in the care of their child

The judge may consider other factors they deem just and relevant to make a decision in the child’s best interest. Before filing a petition for emergency custody in New Jersey, it is wise to consult an experienced Bergen County child custody lawyer. An attorney understands the requirements for emergency hearings and how to draft a compelling motion seeking emergency relief. 

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States