How to Obtain Emergency Court Orders for Custody in Georgia

By Anna Green
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To obtain an emergency court order for custody in Georgia, you first need to prepare an emergency petition and file it with the appropriate court, usually the place where you or the child resides. Most emergency custody orders are ex parte, meaning you do not need to first notify the other parent or party to the proceedings. Generally, the court will only grant emergency orders on a temporary basis, usually when the child is at risk of harm.

Standard for Emergency Custody

In Georgia, to be granted an emergency custody order, you must prove to the court that an immediate order is necessary for your child’s safety. For example, if you and your husband decide to separate and the split is amicable, you would file for custody using Georgia’s standard procedures rather than file for emergency custody. On the other hand, if your spouse has a mental illness and threatened to hurt your children if you leave, you would likely have grounds for seeking an emergency order.

Emergency Petition Contents

Georgia provides a form for filing for emergency custody on the basis of potential danger from a spouse or parent. You may obtain this form from your local courthouse and complete it yourself or retain an attorney to prepare it for you. The form requests basic information about you, your children and the other parent, including full names, current addresses and dates of birth. On the form, you would also state your reasons for seeking emergency custody, such as instances of violence or threats against you or your children.

Submitting Documentation

After preparing your petition, deliver it to the clerk of the court. There is no filing fee for an emergency order. The clerk will direct you to a judge who will hear your case immediately, even though your spouse is not present. You or your attorney must also bring a proposed temporary custody order and financial affidavit and worksheet for the judge to review and approve at your emergency hearing.

Emergency Hearing

At the hearing, the judge will listen to your case and make an immediate ruling based on the evidence you present. She may grant your request as stated in your petition; deny it in full, if she deems your children are not at risk; or partially grant your motion by giving you emergency custody but granting your spouse visitation rights, for example. The judge can rule based only on the evidence you present, so be ready to provide police reports, photos, medical documentation or any other evidence you have that supports your case.

Final Steps

An emergency custody order in Georgia stays in effect for only 30 days. If the judge grants your request, you will have to appear in court again between 10 and 30 days after the initial hearing. At the subsequent hearing, the other party will have a chance to appear and respond. Both of you will have an opportunity to present additional testimony and witnesses. At this time, the judge will either extend the emergency custody order, terminate it or approve another, more permanent, custody arrangement.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.