A parent who is a party in a divorce has the right to ask the court for an emergency custody order to ensure the child’s best interests are given a priority. If divorcing parents are experiencing a high amount of conflict, it can complicate how they approach parenting and expose the children to the negative consequences of divorce.
Protecting the Best Interests of the Child
The law in Illinois permits either parent to file for an emergency custody order when divorcing. These orders allocate parental responsibility, making it clear which parent has the authority to make decisions. These court petitions help ensure the child’s best interests are prioritized, especially if the parents anticipate or are in the middle of a prolonged custody battle.
If there’s a history of abuse or an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety, a temporary custody order can protect the child from physical and emotional harm. Before an emergency custody order is granted, the court must assess which type of arrangement would best fit the situation by evaluating the following factors:
- The health and wellbeing of both parties
- The wishes of the child, depending on age and level of maturity
- The wishes and possible agreements of both parents
- Family relationships and interactions
- The child’s adjustment to the community, home, and school
- The existence or threat of violence or abuse
The judge will also consider the willingness and ability of each parent to support a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent.
It’s important for parents to note that Illinois law presumes that it’s in the best interests of the child for both parents to be fully involved. If a parent files for an emergency custody order that would limit the other parent’s access to the minor, he or she may be required to provide evidence of abuse or threat to the child’s safety.
Impact on Final Custody Order
Emergency custody orders are usually vacated once the divorce is finalized and a permanent order for custody is entered. However, it can help or hurt a parent’s ability to obtain the desired custody arrangement because the courts are more likely to maintain the same provisions in the final custody order, particularly if the child is thriving under the current arrangement. In such a case, the other parent would likely have to give a significant reason for the judge to change the terms.