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Pursuing an Ex Parte Child Custody Order in Wisconsin

 Posted on October 10, 2023 in Uncategorized

Madison Divorce LawyerWhen it comes to family law issues, child custody disputes can be some of the most emotionally charged and complex cases. When situations come up where a child's immediate safety or well-being is at risk, Wisconsin’s family law system provides a mechanism known as an "ex parte child custody order" that allows a court to take urgent action to protect a child, even without the full participation of both parents. The following is an overview of ex parte child custody orders. For more detailed information on your situation, contact a Wisconsin family lawyer from our firm.

What Is an Ex Parte Child Custody Order?

An ex parte child custody order is a court order that is issued without prior notice to or in the presence of one party involved in a custody dispute. "Ex parte" is a Latin term meaning "from one side" or "by one party." Basically, an ex parte order is one where the court makes its decision based on the information and argument presented by the petitioner (the party who is requesting the order) without allowing the respondent (the other party) to present their side to the court.

When Are Ex Parte Child Custody Orders Issued?

Ex parte child custody orders are used in emergency situations where immediate intervention is necessary to safeguard a child's safety or well-being, such as:

  • Allegations of abuse and/or domestic violence - If there are credible allegations of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment by one parent and/or situations involving domestic violence or threats of violence within the family.

  • Fitness of the parent - If one parent is unable to properly care for the child because of substance abuse, mental health issues, physical health issues, or some other issues.

  • Parental interference – If one parent is preventing the other parent from seeing or having contact with the child.

  • Kidnapping or abduction threats - When there is a credible risk that one parent may attempt to take the child without consent or without following proper legal procedures.

Legal Standards and Due Process

Ex parte child custody orders are not issued lightly. Courts are acutely aware of the gravity of such orders and their potential impact on the child’s well-being and a parent's rights. To obtain an ex parte order, the petitioner must demonstrate that:

  • An emergency exists - The situation requires immediate action to protect the child, and waiting for a regular court hearing would be detrimental to their well-being.

  • Best interests of the child -The proposed order is in the child's best interests, and the petitioner must provide credible evidence to support this claim.

  • Harm would occur without the order - The court must be convinced that harm, whether physical, emotional, or psychological, would likely occur if the order is not granted.

Temporary Order and Future Proceedings

Ex parte child custody orders are temporary measures. They are intended to address immediate concerns until a full custody hearing can be scheduled. At this subsequent hearing, both parties can present evidence, witnesses, and legal arguments.

Contact a Rock County Family Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If you are having custody issues, do not delay in contacting John T. Fields & Associates, LLC to speak with one of our dedicated Madison, WI child custody attorneys. Call 608-729-3590 to schedule a confidential consultation and find out what legal options you may have.

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