There are no more serious issues for the Sacramento County Family Court to have to deal with than the issue of emergencies that sometimes occur during a child custody case.

    Most custody hearings are set by the Court Clerk after one of the parents files what is know as a Request For Orders with the clerk. This is a package of documents that notifies the Judge and the other party that an issue has developed which needs to be heard by the Judge. A Court date will usually be set by the clerk about a month out from the date that the papers are filed. This will give the opposing parent time to prepare a response to the first parent's Request.

    There is a process for parents to come to court quickly but it should only be used for an emergency that affects the welfare of the child. These are typically situations that involve either substance abuse or some form of domestic violence. The general rule with the Court is that parents should only request an emergency order if there is a risk of immediate harm to the child. The Judge will ask specific questions about the problem in an attempt to find out if there really is an emergency and what the proper order should be.

    Parents should be prepared for the Court to ask very specific and difficult questions. The Judge will often be unfamiliar with the case and want to make sure that he has a full grasp of the facts. The most important thing to remember, is the the Judge will not have the benefit of reading the file before court like he would in a regularly set hearing. The papers in an Emergency order request are given to the Judge at the time of the hearing.  A party requesting an Emergency Custody Order needs to be very specific with the Judge in the papers about exactly what the emergency is.

    Attorneys and Parents must always use good judgment when considering the need for an Emergency Hearing. On the on hand, if there is a true emergency, an order must be requested quickly. However, a party needs to be careful not to ask for an emergency order if the situation does not truly warrant one. The last thing a party wants is for the Court to think that they are “crying wolf” and making more out of a problem than there really is.