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Filing An Emergency Custody Order In Florida


Under Florida law, if a parent believes that a child is in imminent physical danger, is being abused, or is at risk of being unlawfully removed from the state, then he or she can file an emergency custody order, seeking full custody of the child. If granted, the other parent’s visitation will be restricted, at least on a temporary basis.

When Courts Will Grant Temporary Emergency Custody Orders 

Under Florida law, judge will only issue emergency custody orders when a petitioner can prove that a case involves:

  • Child abandonment;
  • The actual or threatened abuse or mistreatment of a child; or
  • Actual or threatened domestic violence towards a child’s sibling or parent.

Courts may also be willing to hold an emergency custody hearing when there is evidence of extreme substance abuse by one parent, or a recent conviction for a serious or violent offense. In these situations, courts can grant one of two types of emergency motions: ex-parte motions and regular emergency motions. If granted, these orders give sole custody to one parent and restrict visitation of the other parent on a temporary basis.

Ex-Parte Motions 

Ex-parte motions are filed by a petitioner and sent directly to a judge, without the need to inform the child’s other parent and without holding a hearing. These orders are typically only issued when:

  • There is a high risk that the other parent will remove the child from the jurisdiction if he or she becomes aware of the filing; or
  • There is a possibility of immediate harm to the child if the other parent is notified of the motion.

These types of pleadings are relatively rare, as few situations are deemed serious enough to justify taking away another parent’s right to be heard regarding such allegations. In most cases, the other parent must be notified of the motion and given a chance to present his or her side of the story to a judge before a court can make a determination regarding custody.

Regular Emergency Custody Motions 

The second type of emergency custody motion is a standard motion with notice to the other party. This is a much more traditional route, as it requires that the other parent be notified of the motion and also ensure that he or she is given the opportunity to make objections, present arguments to the judge, and submit evidence and witness testimony in his or her defense.

Do You Need Help Filing an Emergency Custody Order? 

Emergency custody orders are reserved for the most serious of situations, in which a child is in danger of being mistreated. If you believe that your own child is in such danger and have contacted law enforcement authorities, your next step may require filing a motion for temporary emergency custody. For help, call 954-945-7591 and set up a meeting with experienced and compassionate Florida child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today. Our legal team is standing by and prepared to get started on your case right away.




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