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Coral Springs & Boca Raton Family Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > Your Guide to Ex Parte Child Custody Petitions in Florida

Your Guide to Ex Parte Child Custody Petitions in Florida


Are you a divorced or separated parent who is concerned about the health and safety of your child? If your co-parent is putting your kid at risk, it could be time to seek an emergency custody order on an ex parte basis. Within this article, our Boca Raton child custody attorneys highlight the key points to know about ex parte child custody petitions in Florida.

Ex Parte Petition Seeks Emergency Custody Order Within Notice to Co-Parent

 An emergency child custody petition allows a parent to seek an immediate child custody order or an immediate change to an existing custody order/arrangement. In the context of child custody in Florida, an ex parte petition is typically filed when one parent believes there is an urgent need to obtain custody of a child without prior warning to the co-parent. It is an option that is available in situations where altering the co-parent of the issue could put a child’s safety at risk. When warranted by the allegations, a court can take custody action on a temporary, emergency basis without notice to the non-petitioning parent.

 An Emergency Order May Be Warranted to Protect the Health and Safety of Child 

To be clear, Florida courts do not take emergency ex parte orders lightly. Quite the contrary, they are generally disfavored. In effect, this means an emergency ex parte custody order will only be put in place deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of the child. Some situations that could warrant an ex parte custody order include:

  • Evidence of Abuse or Neglect: If there are credible accusations or evidence pointing towards physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or severe neglect that could justify an ex parte child custody order.
  • Immediate threat of harm: In situations where the child is in immediate danger due to the environment or actions of the co-parent, an immediate custody order could also take effect.
  • Risk of Abduction (Cross-State): If there is a credible threat that the co-parent might flee with the child to another jurisdiction—particularly out of state or country—an ex parte custody order may be put in place.

 Court Must Determine if Emergency Custody Order is in Best Interests of the Child

 Florida operates under the best interests of the child standard (Florida Statutes § 61.13(3)). When an ex parte child custody petition is filed in Broward County or elsewhere in South Florida, a court will consider a wide range of different factors, including the child’s physical safety, emotional well-being, and the overall stability that each parent can provide. Beyond that, the court will assess the potential impact of abruptly changing the child’s living arrangement. The petitioning parent must provide substantial evidence showing that the absence of an emergency order would be detrimental to the child’s best interests.

Get Help From a Child Custody in South Florida Today

At Williams & Varsegi, LLC, our Florida child custody lawyer offers solutions-focused advocacy to parents. We are qualified to handle high-stakes, complex cases. If you have specific questions about emergency child custody petitions, we are here as a family law resource. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Our firm provides custody representation throughout South Florida.

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