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How to File for Emergency Temporary Custody in Texas

Taly Thiessen
How to File for Emergency Temporary Custody in Texas

“How do you file for emergency temporary custody in Texas?” It’s a question no one ever wants to find themselves asking. Yet, no child should ever have to live in a dangerous environment. If you know the actions of a child’s guardian(s) are making a child’s life unsafe, here’s what you can do to help.

Whether you’re a concerned parent seeking a Houston family lawyer or a family member researching grandparents rights in Texas, one option you have is to take a child into emergency temporary custody—or custodianship, as it’s called in Texas.

What you need to know about emergency temporary custody in Texas

Emergency temporary custody in Texas requires a large amount of paperwork. Understandably, it can be frustrating to see how much work goes into emergency temporary custody when a child may be in danger. However, the state of Texas always strives to keep the child’s best interest at heart, at all times.

Getting started: how to file for emergency temporary custody in Texas

To successfully secure emergency temporary custody in Texas, you’ll likely need a skilled lawyer for custody battles. Note that the following information is not legal counsel, but a general overview to help you be informed about filing a motion for temporary emergency custody, the kinds of evidence gathered for the court, and what typically happens after you obtain temporary emergency custody.

Will this count as an emergency?

We know the burning question on your mind is, “How do you file for emergency temporary custody?” But judges will have questions of their own. Judges don’t like to break up families, so they require proof that the child is at high-risk to be harmed if they stay with their current guardian(s). What qualifies as high-risk?

  • Child abandonment
  • An extremely unsafe living space
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse

The above are all considered situations that constitute immediate danger to a child. Whether verbal abuse and emotional abuse warrants emergency temporary custody tends to depend on the judge. Regardless, it’s important to keep in mind that the judge will need more than just your word in emergency temporary custody in Texas.

Do you have enough evidence to convince a judge?

Perhaps the most difficult part of the custodianship process will be proving that a child is in immediate danger. Photos, text messages and emails may be a good place to start looking. If the child’s guardians have run into trouble with the law before, it’s sometimes possible to use police reports and affidavits, but you will need to have a witness to testify for them at court. While these are more standard forms of evidence, the range of permissible proof runs the gamut, so long as it’s applicable.

Which courthouse in Texas should you visit?

The correct forms for filing for emergency custody can be found in the district court for the county in which there is continuing jurisdiction or where your child lives. Forms and regulations vary from county to county.

Filling out a petition for emergency custody

There are many types of custody orders that you will need to choose from, and it is best to discuss which is best with a family lawyer. Your petition serves as your motion (the terms petition and motion are interchanged frequently, much to the confusion of everyone). In Texas, it’s required to have a motion (a request) for a judge to sign an order (the thing you want to happen). We’ll get to your order in a moment.

Attaching an affidavit to your petition

The affidavit is a crucial element of a petition: it’s on this affidavit that you would get the chance to present a compelling argument for why the child is in immediate danger. Evidence is included with this affidavit. The clerk will request multiple copies of the affidavit.

Filling out a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – Extraordinary Relief

This temporary restraining order differs from a standard TRO in that it requires the inclusion of the aforementioned affidavit. This Ex Parte TRO is the order that the judge needs to sign for to allow legal temporary emergency custody. Once signed, the TRO is immediately put into place, without providing advanced notice to the other party. A separate hearing (called a Temporary Orders hearing), which the judge should schedule on the day they sign the order, will be held where the other party can argue their case.

Serving notice to the other party

How the other party will be serviced notice depends on your case. Unless there is an attorney already involved on the other side of the case, it’s the law that you serve the other party at least three days in advance of the temporary hearing.

Preparing for your hearing

Keep in mind, even if you were able to complete all these steps by yourself, they’ve only gotten you to a hearing. The hearing for emergency temporary custody in Texas is a completely separate battle that you should not undergo alone.

Consider hiring a family law attorney

Emergency custody cases are exactly what their name states—an emergency. If your child is in danger, then time is of the essence. It is to your advantage to have the best support for these types of urgent custody battles. Thiessen Law Firm provides you with a team that will make sure your child is in safe hands as quickly as possible. Request a free consultation today.

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