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Emergency Custody Orders For Domestic Violence In Maryland

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An emergency custody order is a legal device that empowers the Maryland courts to intervene on behalf of children at risk of harm. These orders are available to safeguard children who suffered or are at risk of abandonment, neglect, or abuse. The Maryland courts often employ emergency custody orders in situations of actual or threatened child abuse or domestic violence.

Before delving into the specific details of emergency custody orders, it will be helpful to review several important definitions that are unique to this discussion.

Important Definitions

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9.5-101 defines a number of important terms in the context of emergency custody orders. For the purpose of these orders, the following definitions apply:

  • Child C This term refers to any person under 18 years old. An abandoned child is one left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.
  • Child Custody Determination C This term refers to decrees, judgments, or similar court orders that award child custody or visitation rights. Child custody determinations include initial, temporary, permanent, and modification orders. These determinations do not include orders relating to child support or similar financial obligations.
  • Child Custody Proceeding C This term refers to a legal proceeding in which child custody or visitation rights are an issue. Child custody proceedings include legal actions for divorce, separation, child abuse/neglect, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and protection from domestic violence. These proceedings do not include legal actions for contractual emancipation, enforcement of emergency custody, or juvenile delinquency.
  • Home State C This term refers to the U.S. state or territory where the child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six months before the beginning of any child custody proceeding. If the child is less than six months old, this term refers to the U.S. state or territory where the child lived from birth.
  • Person Acting as Parent C This term refers to a person, other than a parent, who currently or previously had physical custody of a child for at least six months in the past year. This person must also claim to have a right to legal custody, even if the state courts have yet to award any such right.
  • Physical Custody C This term refers to the care and supervision of a child from a physical standpoint.

Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction 

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 9.5-204 explains the legal background of temporary jurisdiction for emergency custody orders. Under this section, the Maryland courts have temporary, emergency jurisdiction relating to custody if:

  • A child is present in Maryland; and
  • That child was abandoned; or
  • It is necessary to protect the child, or their parent or sibling, from harm or abuse.

If the child in question is not subject to a previous child custody determination C and there is not a pending proceeding that relates to custody C then an emergency custody order can become final. If that happens, Maryland becomes the home state of the child.

If the child in question is subject to a previous child custody determination C or there is a pending proceeding that relates to custody C then an emergency custody order is generally temporary. Upon issuance of such an order, the courts will communicate immediately to determine appropriate next steps.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about emergency custody orders, we can help. The Bel Air emergency custody order attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered are prepared to assist you today.

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