Child Custody Emergency Jurisdiction
Under Family Code Section 3424 A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in California and the child has been abandoned or an emergency has occurred and it is necessary to protect the child because they have been threatened with mistreatment or abuse. Often the child needs the protection of the other parent to make sure the harming parent cannot have a visitation or custody time with the child. This is a temporary emergency order and does not often have long lasting effect. It usually lasts until there is further full evidentiary hearing in a few weeks or a Child custody investigation is ordered by the Court.
Often when a party seeks an emergency custody order from the Court there is not prior orders in effect. Therefore, the Court must issue an emergency order prior to a Paternity or Divorce filing has been made. As a result if a child custody proceeding has not been or is not commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction a child custody determination made under this section becomes the home state of the child.
If there is a competing Court order from another State or another Court in the State of California the Court making the emergency Court order must specify a time frame to which the order will lapse. Thus this will give time to the other Court who made the original orders to either intervene if necessary or defer to the Court who made the emergency orders.
Once there are competing orders from two separate courts the two courts must communicate with one another about the custody situation. The ultimate goal is the protect the child health safety and welfare. Judges will assess which Court can better provide the adequate protections to the child.
Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) the Courts have enormous flexibility in asserted its power to protect the child who is a risk of harm from a parent or guardian. In addition, the Court can extend its order past a temporary order to a longer lasting one that will offer more safety for the child and the caretaker to later get more permanent orders. Ultimately to get more permanent orders under these circumstances a full investigation and evidentiary hearing must be done.
These orders often fall under the Domestic Violence acts of each state and if need be a parent can get a temporary restraining order along with an emergency custody order so that all safety avenues are secured.
It is important to note that the Temporary emergency orders are closely related to the “abuse” definition under Family Code Section 6203 under the Domestic Violence proceedings. These types of behavior are to intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury or Sexual assault or to place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
Emergency jurisdiction is asserted in child custody cases often as well in Juvenile dependency proceedings where child has suffered a substantial risk of harm and the sister state has not asserted jurisdiction yet. The juvenile court can then go ahead and assert emergency jurisdiction to protect the minor child until a further Court from another state steps in.
Juvenile court's initial assertion of temporary emergency jurisdiction in California over a child who had been the subject of a family law custody order in his home state was fully consistent with, and authorized by, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), where the court conducted an evidentiary hearing before concluding immediate action was necessary to protect child from an ongoing threat of serious physical harm and only then entered a temporary custody order, mother was present at that hearing with appointed counsel, and mother did not challenge the county child welfare agency's evidentiary presentation.