Taking Action for Your Child Via Ex Parte Custody in New Jersey

Standard Hearings Involve Both Parents, But Ex Parte Orders Are Granted in Emergencies Without the Other Parent Present. These Temporary Orders Require Strong Proof Due to Their Seriousness.

Taking Action for Your Child Via Ex Parte Custody in New JerseyThe family court in New Jersey prioritizes children’s best interests in all decisions, from divorce settlements to child custody and parenting time. In order to obtain child custody or modify an existing child custody agreement, an individual must file a motion with the New Jersey Superior Part: Family Court. A hearing follows in which both parents are afforded the opportunity to provide evidence supporting their argument. In some cases, however, the child’s best interests and imminent safety require a more immediate modification to current custody arrangements. In these cases, an ex parte custody order can be sought.

Ex parte custody is a temporary custodial court order obtained through an emergency hearing. In this hearing, only the soliciting parent or guardian is present, and the parent against whom allegations of child safety breach are made is not informed nor present. An ex parte custody order may be put into place until a standard custody hearing can be scheduled, which may be weeks, depending on a court’s caseload. Because this temporary arrangement does not give the other parent an opportunity to respond to serious allegations challenging their child’s welfare in their care, judges do not enter into such orders lightly. A higher burden of proof is required for alleging parents or guardians of the urgency of a custody arrangement modification.

Temporary Orders Without Both Sides Present

The primary difference between an ex-parte custody order and a standard custody order is that the hearing to determine temporary ex-parte custody does not include the parent against whom imminent child safety concerns have been raised. It is an emergency hearing to determine temporary custody for the safety of a child until a longer-term standard custody hearing, inviting testimony from both parents, can be scheduled.

The Burden of Proof in NJ Ex Parte Custody Cases

Because of the severity of an ex parte custody order, the legal burden of proof is higher than the standard burden of proof required in other non-emergency family court hearings. In order for an ex parte custody order to be issued, the alleging parent must provide clear and convincing evidence that the child faces imminent harm in the presence of the other parent.

When Ex Parte Custody Orders May be Necessary in New Jersey

An ex parte custody order to immediately remove a child from a parent’s custody and into the custody of another may be necessary in cases of alleged domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse or neglect, criminal behavior, and any other situation in which a child faces “imminent and irreparable damage” in the care of their custodial guardian.

How Courts Decide Ex Parte Custody Matters

All custody hearings, both temporary emergency and standard, involve consideration of the best interests of the child at the heart of the matter. In order to establish what is in the best interests of the child, the court will review various factors such as a parent’s relationship with the child before the custody hearing, the parent’s work and income stability, their health and capacity to care for the child, the distance the parent lives from the child and their school, any history of domestic violence or drug abuse, and the child’s preferences if they are of an age to make rational judgments, among other factors.

Allegations of domestic violence or child abuse are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly by the Department of Child Protection and Permanency. Allegations of domestic violence and abuse also strongly impact the family court’s placement of an ex parte custody order and long-term custody. Parents who are found to have created these environments for children will likely be stripped of custody and parenting time rights, or they will face supervised visitation.

Complete Guide to Ex Parte Custody Orders in New Jersey Family Court

In all of New Jersey’s legal system, children’s well-being and safety come first and foremost. A child custody attorney is dedicated to ensuring that well-being by helping their clients attain appropriate custody. Whether that means filing an Order to Show Cause to obtain ex parte custody for their client in service of their child’s immediate safety or defending their client against an unfair attack on their rights to have a strong relationship with their child, a child custody attorney is an essential piece to any custody process.

Our team at The Montanari Law Group serves clients with ex parte custody matters in Paramus, Montvale, Caldwell, Totowa, Haledon, Wyckoff, Millburn, and throughout Passaic County, Bergen County, Essex County, and surrounding areas in New Jersey. Contact us today at (973) 233-4396 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you help your children thrive in your care.


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