Emergency Family Law Hearings
Some urgent family law matters merit short-notice resolution. Common examples are child endangerment matters requiring restriction of parenting time, or imminent removal of children from the state or country. In cases where “imminent danger” exists, parties may file an emergency motion for court assistance. If alleging child endangerment, visitation with the accused parent stops while the motion is pending, though supervised visitation may occur. After the filing of a motion to restrict parenting time, a hearing will be held within 14 days. Most family law matters are not resolved by emergency hearings and there is a high bar to establish an emergency.Parenting Time Restriction
An emergency motion, available from the Colorado Court system, must be filed with the court to initiate the parenting time restriction process. Once filed, it is usually heard within 24 hours. If the court grants the motion, parenting time will be restricted until there is a hearing and visitation will occur only with third-party supervision. At the expedited hearing, the court will decide whether to restrict the parenting time for a longer period, put fewer restrictions on that parent’s parenting time, or deny the motion.
The following events can lead to parenting time emergencies that support a motion to restrict parenting time:
- Drug use
- Alcohol use
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- Acute mental illness
- Medical or other neglect
Emergencies can arise when one party intends to leave the state with the children, or leaves with them, during the pendency of an allocation of parental responsibilities case. Remedies for expedited enforcement of custody orders issued from other jurisdictions or emergency action to prevent parental abduction are also available under federal law. Legal standards for relief are high in emergency actions so it is best to have the assistance of an attorney. Relevant and reliable evidence is key and an attorney can advise on what available evidence is relevant and reliable evidence. With emergency hearings, it is necessary to expedite:
- Subpoena issuance
- Evidence gathering
- Witnesses preparation
The parent who is filing a motion for restriction of parenting time must establish that his or her child is in imminent emotional or physical danger when the child has contact with the other parent. The threat to the child must be imminent. A determination of “physical or emotional danger” is fact-specific. As with many family law matters, a court has a great deal of discretion in determining whether there is endangerment. There is a high bar to prevail on an endangerment matter because of the substantial consequences against the accused parent.
Is it time to turn change into opportunity? At Janko Law and Mediation, LLC we know how to work with you to reach your transition goals. We are committed to pursuing settlement to preserve family relations to the maximum extent possible, however also zealously represent your interests in contested litigation if desired or necessary. Give us a call for a complimentary case assessment at 720-780-0115, or fill out our confidential online intake form.