A Look at Emergency Custody: Prince George’s County Edition

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today, we will be discussing emergency custody petitions in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

What does the court consider when making an emergency custody determination?

In Prince George’s County and quite frankly in all other jurisdictions in Maryland the court considers whether or not there is actually an emergency and there is a big difference between things that are concerning and things that are emergent. For example, if your co-parent took your child out of daycare and you just don’t necessarily know where your child is the court may not necessarily consider that a legal emergency to grant you an emergency custody petition. However, if your co-parent takes your children or your child out of daycare and they let you know they’re flying to Barbados and they’re never coming back, they are more likely to consider that an emergency custody issue and that’s the type of consideration that they make. So, it’s important for you to understand what counts as an emergency and what doesn’t count as an emergency. And it’s important that just because an issue is concerning it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get an emergency court order. The court will also consider safety concerns for your children. They’ll consider the likelihood of immediate harm. They’ll consider any mental concerns, such as, if you or the co-parent is having some sort of mental break or if they are acting particularly aggressive or harming the child, they will take all these issues into consideration when making an emergency custody determination.

What is the process for filing in Prince George’s County?

In Prince George’s County, the process is quite frankly like other e-file jurisdictions. So, you or your attorney will prepare a petition for emergency custody with the court, you will then make sure that you have served the opposing party with the emergency custody petition service. It’s very important because if you don’t serve them, it’s unlikely that the court will grant your emergency petition. If they’re served and you let them know what date you’re planning to present that to the court, you can go down to the duty judge on the lower level of the circuit court building in Prince George’s County and wait until the court is ready to hear your emergency petition.

Next Steps

If there’s a reason why you don’t necessarily prevail on your emergency custody petition, the court will typically order that your petition will be heard in the normal course, which means it will be heard as if it was a request to modify custody or request to establish custody. That means that if you hadn’t necessarily served your petition for contempt, you may now need to seek and request the summons so that you can properly serve the opposing party or your co-parent with that petition so the court will hear that case go through the normal channels. If you have won on your emergency petition, you may still want to file to get a more permanent custody order in place because if you don’t get a custody order that’s permanent in place the opposing party can file and request a modification based on the fact that you got that order and things will still kind of keep going and going. It’s important for you to try to get some stability and that’s the goal, to get stability and ideally make sure that you have the best situation for your children available. So, if that’s the case you need to file to get a permanent custody order with the court so that you don’t have potential problems arising at the last minute.

If you have any questions about emergency custody petitions in Prince George’s County Maryland or any other custody related issues in Maryland, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.