Our Ohio Family Law Attorneys are often asked how easy or hard it is to get emergency custody. In Franklin County (Columbus), as in most Ohio Counties, the procedure for obtaining Emergency Custody Orders is governed by both state law and the local rules of court. This article talks about Franklin County’s Local Rules regarding emergency custody.
(E) Post-decree motions requesting ex parte orders that affect children are discouraged. However, the court will issue such orders only where it is shown that irreparable harm will occur to the child unless immediate action is taken, and the moving party has also filed and scheduled for hearing a motion requesting the reallocation of parental rights and responsibilities. Such motions for ex parte orders shall have supporting affidavits that clearly delineate the expected harm. Any ex parte order for a change in the residential parent status shall include a provision for immediate notice of the ex parte order to the legal custodian or the residential parent.
Note that we have put certain portions of the rule in bold. That is because these things are essential to understanding the rule and how it work in Franklin County.
This rule specifically addresses post-decree matters. The court does not want people to try to fast-track a change of custody by fabricating or exaggerating an emergency. This rule also applies to parents who have already had a divorce, dissolution, annulment or legal separation case. Never married parents would not be filing their paperwork in domestic relations court, and this is a local rule for domestic relations court only. However, for unmarried parents filing emergency custody motions in Juvenile Court in Franklin County, the Juvenile Court Judges are the same Judges that preside over Domestic Relations Court. Their perspective on emergencies tends to be similar in both domestic relations cases and juvenile cases.
IRREPARABLE HARM WILL OCCUR
There are a couple of important things to note about this portion of the rule. First, the phrase “irreparable harm”: this means that harm which cannot be undone. Second, but just as important, is the phrase “will occur”. Not may occur, not I fear will occur, but WILL OCCUR. Harm is certain, and harm is unable to be repaired. Now, you have to use some common sense here. This does not mean that a broken arm is no big deal because it will heal. But it has to be real harm to the child. So thing like “my child wants to go to school in my district but my ex won’t agree and school is about to start” is NOT going to be considered an emergency in Franklin County, Ohio.
In addition to filing your Motion for Emergency Custody (Ex Parte), the court wants AFFIDAVITS. These are sworn statements, not just a letter. They want you to make your statement under oath, so that you are subject to penalty of perjury for making false statements. Affidavits have to be notarized.
CLEARLY DELINEATE THE EXPECTED HARM
Clearly delineate: this means your affidavit have to state clearly what it is you are afraid will happen to the child. Expected harm means not just feared harm, but what you think WILL happen if the court does not give you an emergency custody order.
IMMEDIATE NOTICE TO THE RESIDENTIAL PARENT
The court expects you to be able to give immediate notice to the residential parent, with no monkeying around. If you have their current address, the court expects you to give it, not use an address that you know is an old address to delay things. Such behavior definitely detracts from the credibility of the person seeking the emergency custody order. If the residential parent challenges the order, and gives credible testimony to the court that you deceived them to get custody, your long term goal of obtaining custody may be shot down before it begins.
If you would like to talk to one of our Ohio Family Law Attorneys about emergency custody, give us a call at (614) 225-9316.
DISCLAIMER – Read it, it’s important!