Keeping Your Child Safe Is the Number One Priority
Video Transcribed: What constitutes an emergency for the purposes of the family court? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa father’s defense attorney here with Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable.
I want to talk to you guys today about the statutory definition of an emergency. And the reason is, is this is something a lot of times you will see situations that are not good situations where guys would think, hey, that’s an emergency. I need emergency custody right now. Right? One thing to understand from the gate is that it is a very exacting standard under the statutes that you’re going to be held to, to successfully procure an emergency custody order.
The rule under Title 43, just so everyone’s clear on this, is it has to be imminent, the child has to be in an environment where there is an imminent threat of substantial and irreparable harm. What that means in practical terms is that if the court doesn’t act right now, the child could be seriously injured, or seriously harmed in some way. So examples of what would hold up to that standard, serious child abuse. Somebody beating the child, they’re getting whipped with a belt, or where they’re leaving marks, or they’re thrown down a flight of stairs, stuff like that. Sexual assault on a child, obviously, would meet that standard. Gross neglect. I got an emergency signed on a case a few years ago where the children had never been to the dentist and their teeth were rotting out of their heads. I mean, that would be an example of medical neglect. If the child is severely underweight, that kind of thing.
Truancy, if you are talking about severe truancy, where the child’s just not attending school at all. With older children, if you have a serious threat of self-harm by the child due to conditions in the home, that might be a reason. A child who is in danger of serious psychological harm, for example, if there’s a traumatic situation going on and there are outward symptoms of it, like a child who soils him or herself or wets the bed inappropriately when they weren’t before, those are the kinds of things.
Substance abuse, like serious substance abuse. And when I say substance abuse, I want to be clear about it. The fact that a parent uses marijuana by itself is not what I’m talking about. The fact that they might have a drink on occasion is not what I’m talking about. What I mean is if the parent is using meth or if they’re a roaring alcoholic, or if they’re strung out on the couch on pills, that could be an emergency. But as a general rule, marijuana use by itself, unless you’re talking DUI, is not an emergency. Leaving the child with unsuitable or dangerous persons could be an emergency.
Domestic violence is an obvious one. Other serious criminal behavior in the household, are examples of what would constitute an imminent threat of harm. The kind of thing that generally doesn’t is if the child expresses they don’t like it at the other parent’s house. A child who has a conflict with the other parent, that’s usually not an emergency, unless it’s really escalated bad. General poor parenting practices or differences of opinion on how to bring a child up are not emergencies. And the thing to understand is the emergency statute is a higher burden than simply the best interest. And within that context, you’re not talking about a best-interest analysis, you’re talking about imminent harm, so it’s a high bar.
If you have questions about that or if you think there is an emergency situation involving your child, you need a good lawyer. And one place you can find a good child custody lawyer in Oklahoma is Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable. Thanks, guys.