Wendy Samuelson Explains Emergency Custody Order on Medium.com

Wendy B. Samuelson, a partner at Samuelson Hause PLLC, was recently interviewed by Ilyssa Panitz on medium.com about the recent custody dispute between Ant Anstead and Christina Hall. Samuelson does not represent either party.

Celebrities Clash in Filing for Emergency Full Custody

British TV host Ant Anstead requested on April 28 an emergency order for full custody of the 2-year-old boy he shares with the HGTV star Christina Hall. In the filing, Anstead claimed his former wife was not providing adequate care for the child and saw him less than 10 days per month.

The Supreme Court of Orange County denied the emergency request citing a lack of evidence that the boy was in imminent danger. A child custody hearing is scheduled for June 28. Based on Anstead’s emergency request, one topic sure to be discussed at the hearing is how the parents use their son in commercial endeavors. He is seeking to restrain both parents from “commodifying” the boy without the express advanced consent of both parents in writing.

New York allows a parent to file for emergency custody. The request can be made to Family Court if the divorce is final. The Supreme Court is the appropriate venue when the divorce is pending.

What Is an Emergency Order?

An emergency order for full custody gives the custody of the child to one parent until a full hearing is conducted. An emergency request is typically made when one parent believes the other parent poses a danger to the child.

Reasons a parent might seek an emergency custody order include the following:

  • The other parent is physically abusive.
  • The other parent is neglectful.
  • The other parent has drug or alcohol issues.
  • The other parent is unable to properly care for the child because of mental illness.

Depending on the situation, an emergency order can still allow the other parent to have visitation with the child (possibly supervised).

When Does a Judge Approve an Emergency Order?

A claim on its own is not enough for a judge to grant an emergency order for full custody. Solid proof of the alleged behavior must be presented. Evidence includes photos of bruises or burns on the child, affidavits from witnesses that have seen the parent drunk or on drugs while with the child, or an affidavit from a mental health professional that the parent is a danger to the child.

The judge will not always speak to the child. An attorney for the child (AFC) is usually appointed. The AFC first speaks with the child and then reports back to the judge. The child’s wishes and understanding of the situation (if they are old enough) are factored into the decision.

How Long Does an Emergency Order for Full Custody Last?

Emergency orders are generally temporary. The judge will decide on a permanent order after there is a full hearing on the matter. A court can modify a custody agreement that is in place. The court order will supersede any previous agreement.

New York courts only agree to an emergency order when the child truly needs to be protected. The court has no interest in being in the middle of parents quibbling over small issues.

What Does Full Custody Mean?

Whether a temporary or permanent order, the parent with full custody can make all decisions regarding the child: medical care, educational choices, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, and more. The noncustodial parent has no legal authority to make decisions for their child.

Unless the noncustodial parent is deemed unfit, they are entitled to parenting time with the child. A parenting schedule can be alternating weekends and holidays or time during the summer. The court decides how they will split parenting time during the school week.

Distinguished New York Counsel for Custody Issues

When there is true concern for a child’s safety, the appropriate action is to bring an emergency application. Mediation is useful in general custody disputes but does not offer a quick solution to imminent danger.

The complex and emotional nature of custody can often drive a wedge between parents. Whether your New York divorce is in the rearview mirror, or you are just embarking on the process, Samuelson Hause PLLC has key insight and legal knowledge to vigorously fight for your parental rights.

Don’t battle on your own. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced custody lawyers. Contact us online or call (516) 584-4685.