How to File for Emergency Custody of a Child in Arizona


As a parent, or even as a grandparent, there may become circumstances where you feel like your child or grandchild is in danger because of the custody situation that they are in. You may believe that you have to take action immediately, but you don’t know what to do. What you need to do is file an emergency custody order.

For those who are unfamiliar with the process, you need to get an order from the court that grants emergency custody to you or to another designated person determined by the court itself. So how do you file for emergency custody? The very first thing you need to do is contact a family law attorney. To reach our JacksonWhite family law team call us at (480) 467-4348.

Determining What is Considered an “Emergency”

The place to begin is by determining exactly what the emergency is that is occurring. Just because you think your former spouse may be a little reckless with your children does not mean that the court is going to grant emergency custody to you. You need to have a serious emergency that requires the court intervention for this process to even get started.

It is situations that pose an imminent danger to the child that passed the threshold where a judge will feel that he or she needs to get involved by removing the child from the custody of the one parent and granting that custody to the other parent or to another that the court deems appropriate. Situations the court determines as an emergency:

  • Sexual abuse (to the child or another resident of the household)
  • Domestic violence (to the child or another resident of the household)
  • Child neglect
  • Denying the child proper nutrition

The court understands that time is not a luxury in a situation like this. They need to remove the child immediately because things such as domestic violence or sexual abuse are extremely dangerous to the child and cannot be ignored for even one second.

Who Can File for Emergency Custody?

Not just anyone can file an emergency custody petition, so who can file? The most obvious is that the other parent has legal authority to do so. It is actually viewed by the court that it is their responsibility to be looking out for the children if the one parent suspects that the other is abusing or neglecting the child in a way that poses an imminent danger.

Grandparents, brothers and sisters, and even aunts and uncles can have authority in the court to file on behalf of the children. This is especially true if the other parent is deceased, but that does not need to be a requirement.

The court recognizes that, in some situations, the noncustodial parent may have been in an abusive relationship where they are still afraid to file such a petition. This can lead the court to grant the petition of a person who is outside the nuclear family and even grant custody of the children to this person.

The Safety and Well-Being of the Child is Most Important

There is an axiom in the court where they will always err on the side of protecting the child. However, that does not mean that they are going to grant an order to remove the children from one parent, especially in a situation where they are to be forcefully taken from the home, creating a traumatizing situation.

What this means is that you need to have conclusive proof that there is a need for the court to act immediately. You should have medical evidence, pictures, witnesses, or any other kind of record that can support whatever claim you are making. If there is a situation of domestic violence, then pictures and medical reports are necessary.

Understand that the court is not removing the children from your former spouse based upon your words alone. You need to prove what you are saying.

Contact a Family Law Attorney

If you suspect that your child, grandchild, niece/nephew is in a dangerous situation that requires an emergency custody petition, you will want to consult an attorney immediately. You want to make sure you are following the proper procedures that can best ensure the safety of the child/children, and a lawyer will help you to do just that.

An attorney can advise you on exactly what you need to do to file the petition, what evidence will assist you in your case, and help you to get before a judge to have your motion filed. You should seek the assistance of a child custody attorney to assist you, because they are generally the most qualified and they understand exactly what you need to do to have success in a case like this.

Prove Your Claim

At some point, the court will ask you to prove your claim. This may occur even prior to the court ruling on whether the children should be taken away from the other parent or not.

You need to be extremely clear about the accusations you are making and have the evidence to support it. It is really to your advantage to spend some time with your attorney going over the testimony you will provide so that you are clear about what you are saying. The last thing you want is to look like you are not being honest with the court, thus putting your children in danger.

Our hope is that there will never be a circumstance where your children will be in danger to the point of needing to be removed from the other parent’s home immediately. However, that option is available if you have that kind of concern.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

Contact Our Family Law Team

Call (480) 467-4348 or fill out the form to schedule your consultation and discuss your best legal options.