Temporary Custody in North Carolina
Cases of Domestic Violence and Temporary Custody
Cases of domestic violence must be handled very carefully and correctly with regard to gaining temporary child custody to protect a child from further acts of violence. The domestic violence case will take place in criminal court, and the issues regarding temporary custody are a civil court matter.
In North Carolina, if a child is present during an incident (or incidents) of domestic violence, Child Protective Services may come to the home to evaluate the situation. A court-ordered “Safety Plan” has the goal of keeping the children safe from the risk of further harm or witnessing other acts of domestic violence.
When a caregiver’s behavior is violent or out of control, as evidenced by extreme physical, verbal or emotional abuse such as hostile outbursts, subjected to brutal or bizarre punishments, or the child has witnessed acts of violence, the use of weapons and other similar issues, it may be necessary to create a safety plan to protect the child.
Cases of child neglect may also lead the state to request a safety plan. If your child is at risk and the situation warrants a safety plan, it is advised that you speak with our firm. As a Board Certified Family Law Specialist, we have extensive knowledge and understanding of NC laws and procedures surrounding child custody as well as dealing with interventions by protective services that could threaten your right to maintain custody of your child.
How to Get Custody at a Domestic Violence Hearing in NC
If you are the victim of domestic violence, or your children have been abused or subjected to sexual, physical or emotional abuse, it is important that they are protected from further harm. A domestic violence protective order, which will include a temporary child custody order, will restrict the abusive parent from gaining access to the home, the children, or being within a certain distance of family members, or appearing in places they are known to frequent.
A violation of a domestic violence protective order will lead to an arrest. The person under the order (the alleged abuser) is restricted from having a firearm under the federal Violence Against Women Act. A judge in civil court will issue the emergency order, while the criminal case must play out in criminal court. Get help from a lawyer if you or your child has been a victim of abuse. Your lawyer will ensure that you get the protective order immediately, as well as an emergency custody order – as is urgent in many cases. Although these orders cannot completely protect you from violence, a violation of the order is illegal and will lead to an arrest.
In some cases, the court will order visitation with a parent to be supervised. When an allegation of domestic violence has been made, the accused may be forced to have supervised visits only. The supervised visits will continue until the court deems it safe for the child to be alone with that parent, which could take time, based on the facts.
During a period of supervised visits, the goal is to keep the child safe from harm from a parent who has engaged in any type of abuse or neglect. Who can supervise these visits is not clearly defined under state law, and it can be problematic if the person chosen by the parent is inappropriate – such as a friend or relative of the abuser. Our firm can undertake actions to request that the court disallow certain persons for this duty, if there is valid reason to believe the child could be at risk.
How Long Does a Temporary Custody Last?
The time length of a temporary custody order will last between five months to an indefinite period based upon the circumstances. An emergency custody order can be issued if the child has been abandoned or a victim of abuse and may last until a court hearing, and at the hearing, a final domestic violence order can be issued that lasts up to one year. You can request temporary custody with a domestic violence protective order.
In other circumstances, if the parents of a child are no longer actively seeking custody and the temporary order has been up for at least 5 months, the temporary order becomes permanent.
Any such situation should be managed by a family law attorney, and our firm is ready to help you immediately.
- NC Courts: Domestic Violence Best Practices Guide for District Court Judges
- Family Support and Child Welfare Services: North Carolina Safety Assessment