How to File Emergency Custody in Tennessee

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on February 4, 2021

In Tennessee, there are situations where emergency custody will be necessary to protect the best interests of a child or children. Emergency temporary custody orders are useful in cases of divorce, modification of custody, or for the first step in establishing custody or paternity. In order for emergency custody to be granted, there must be a situation that warrants the change. The family law attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC explain.

What is a temporary emergency custody order?

In case of an emergency situation, either parent can request a temporary custody order to protect the child. This can include situations where one parent is trying to remove the children from an abusive situation where a parent is neglectful or is in a harmful living environment.

These cases may be made ex parte, meaning no notice of the petition or hearing is given to the other parent. Because the other parent is left out of the notice, the court must review the emergency order within 15 days.

In general, a temporary emergency custody order will remain in effect until a formal court order is made. You will need to present evidence of abuse or neglect in order for a change of custody to occur.

After the hearing, the other parent has the opportunity to share their side of the case. Upon presentation of evidence and testimony, the judge will either modify or terminate the temporary custody orders.

Situations Where A Temporary Emergency Custody Order Is Needed

In some cases, the need for a temporary emergency custody order may result from a child being with an unfit parent. In Tennessee, an unfit parent may include one who:

  • Willfully abandons a child
  • Is physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive
  • Has been convicted of a sexual offense
  • Has an alcohol or drug impairment
  • Has criminal convictions that do not allow the parent to care for the child

However, it’s not always as severe; a temporary custody order in Tennessee may be needed as a divorce is in progress or a modification of a custody order. This can be for situations where one parent’s financial situation has changed, job status has been altered, or living arrangements have changed.

In those cases, both parents may agree to a temporary change in custody. If they do not, the parent may still petition the court for a temporary parenting plan. The parent will need to submit not only the proposed parenting plan but also a statement of income.

However, these temporary parenting plans and emergency custody orders can be difficult to obtain and may be met with resistance. Through mediation or court intervention, there may be ways to determine what sort of custody order is best suited for the child.

Emergency Custody in Tennessee: Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC

If you are considering a modification to your permanent parenting plan, or are in need of a temporary emergency custody order, you’re going to need an experienced family law attorney to help you. Contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC now to learn more.