Little Boy crying by himselfThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing emergency child custody changes in Melbourne, Florida. Our previous post discussed modifications to a custody arrangement when child abuse has occurred. A family court judge will very likely consider evidence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by a parent as appropriate grounds for an emergency change. As we will review in this article, criminal activity that creates a threat of imminent harm to a child may also justify an expedited change in custody. If you need assistance with modifying an existing custody order, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.

When a Florida judge may consider criminal activity an emergency for purposes of changing custody

When the actions of a parent place their child at risk of imminent harm, a family court may consider the situation an emergency justifying an expedited change in an existing custody order. One such situation occurs when a parent engages in dangerous criminal activity in the presence of the child. An obvious example of such behavior might be a parent who, while armed, drives to purchase methamphetamines with their child in the vehicle. Given the inherent danger in such action, a judge would likely determine that the child’s safety was seriously compromised and approve an emergency request for a custody change. A parent’s criminal activity outside the presence of the child may also give rise to such a request. For instance, if a father is arrested for a violent crime, such as aggravated assault, the court may decide that the child should not be exposed to that individual, at least until the criminal charges are resolved. Less serious charges, such as disorderly conduct or traffic-related offenses, may be scrutinized but may not be deemed to create an emergency situation if the child is not considered to be at risk. How a Florida court will ultimately rule will be based on the specific facts and circumstances of each case.

A Melbourne, Florida attorney can assist with the emergency custody change process

Your child’s safety is of the utmost importance. If you believe they are in immediate danger due to your co-parent’s criminal activity, contact the police as soon as possible. After doing so, it is important to contact a family lawyer to assist you with formally seeking an emergency change to your existing custody order. The initial step in requesting an emergency custody change is to file a Motion with the court and ask that the matter be heard on an expedited basis. At the initial hearing, the judge will review the facts presented by your attorney, such as evidence of the co-parent’s arrest or incarceration, and determine whether an emergency situation exists. If so, the judge will issue a temporary custody change order pending the outcome of the criminal charges. The temporary order will remain in place until a future hearing can be held to determine a more permanent arrangement. If the court determines that no emergency exists, the request may be denied and the matter closed. In non-emergency situations, a judge may determine that further review is necessary to determine whether the existing arrangement is in the child’s best interest. In such cases, the judge will likely schedule a trial to review the case.

When your child’s well-being is at stake, we understand that prompt action may be needed to protect their safety. Our Melbourne office is dedicated to acting quickly to handle the urgent needs of our clients. If you need assistance, contact us today to speak to a custody attorney. We also serve the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.