This is the third post in my series on how drug use impacts child custody in Virginia. My last article discussed how Courts view different types of drug use cases. I also provided information on factors the Court is likely to take into consideration before modifying a custody order. In this article, I will discuss the process for filing an emergency custody order. The Court does not take emergency requests lightly and it is best to speak with an attorney. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your options for child custody, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
The process of filing for an emergency change of custody begins by filing a Petition with the Family Court. The Petition must include a basis for the emergency request. Typically such a basis would mean showing that the child is exposed to a specific sort of danger or is the victim of some form of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Another basis for granting the petition may be if the custodial parent is engaging in illicit drug use. A separate request will be filed with the Court to hear the matter on an expedited basis, given the urgent nature of the case. It is important to remember that the Judge will make his or her determination based on the particular circumstances of the case.
In most cases, a hearing will be scheduled a day or two after the Petition and a request for an emergency hearing have been filed. Depending on the strength of the evidence presented, the Court may even order that the accused parent undergo an immediate drug test. If the Judge finds that the situation represents a true emergency then a temporary change of custody will be ordered and a trial date, to determine a more permanent arrangement, will be set. The Court will determine the visitation that the offending parent is to receive during this temporary arrangement. Depending on the circumstances, that visitation may be supervised.
If the Court finds that no emergency existed then the status quo will likely remain in place. Furthermore, if the Court finds that the Petitioning parent has filed a frivolous or fraudulent request then the Court may reduce their visitation or issue financial sanctions. It cannot be stressed enough that you should consult with an attorney in order to determine whether the situation truly constitutes an “emergency.”
If you suspect that your child’s other parent is abusing controlled substances, or is otherwise placing your child in danger, then contact my office today to speak with a child custody lawyer. We also serve clients in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York and James City.