How to Get an Emergency Custody Order Tips

Sometimes, the normal child custody process isn’t quick enough to handle an emergency. If you believe that your child is in imminent danger in the other parent’s home, you can file for an emergency custody order to have them removed immediately.

To succeed with this application, you must convince the court that it’s the only way to keep your child safe. That’s not always an easy thing to do, but it’s much easier to get through the process with the help of an experienced attorney.

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order

Are you wondering how to get an emergency custody order in Iowa? The first thing you need to do is to apply to the court for emergency custody. In your application, you must show:

  • That the other parent or guardian is not present, or that they refused to let you take the child with you when you informed them that you intended to file for an emergency custody order, or that you could not ask for their consent without endangering the child, or that you could not ask for their consent for fear that they would flee with the child.
  • That the need to remove the child outweighs any physical or mental harm that removal would cause.
  • That removal is the only way to protect the child from imminent danger or harm.
  • That there isn’t enough time to hold a hearing through the usual child custody process.
  • That the child cannot safely remain with the other parent.

What Qualifies as Emergency Custody?

What qualifies as emergency custody? Emergency custody is custody that the juvenile court grants ex parte, meaning with the participation of only one parent or concerned party. An emergency custody order directs a juvenile court officer or a law enforcement officer to remove the child from one parent’s home, usually but not always to place the child with the other parent. The court will only grant emergency custody when the child is in imminent danger.

Reasons for an Emergency Custody Order

In the state of Iowa, the juvenile court can grant emergency custody under the following circumstances:

  • The parent or guardian refuses to comply with a request from a child protection worker, juvenile court officer, or law enforcement officer for an examination of the child. This could be a physical examination, a mental examination, or a medical test.
  • There isn’t enough time to follow the usual process for child custody.

The juvenile court’s emergency custody order must specify that the following conditions have been met:

  • It would be contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the parent’s home.
  • The need to remove the child is more significant than any harm that removal would do to the child. This includes physical, mental, emotional, and social harm.

The emergency custody order must also inform the affected parent that they may lose their parental rights to the child.

What Happens After Emergency Custody is Granted?

How to Get an Emergency Custody Order TipsWhat happens after emergency custody is granted? The court will direct a court officer or a law enforcement officer to remove the child from the home.

Usually, the other parent would then take custody of the child, but the juvenile court could determine that neither parent should have custody at this time. In that situation, custody could go to:

  • Another adult family member
  • A close family friend
  • A suitable caregiver suggested by other family members
  • A foster care provider
  • A residential facility

The court will give preference to family members unless it determines that this wouldn’t be in the best interests of the child.

After the removal of the child, the court will hold a hearing within six months to determine whether the child can safely return to the parent’s home. The court will determine whether the affected parent has made reasonable efforts to remove any danger to the child.


Time is of the essence when you are worried for the safety of your child. If the other parent is not providing a safe environment for your child in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or if anything in the household could put your child in imminent danger, don’t delay.

Contact the skilled child custody attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC or call (319) 363-8199 to speak with one of our professional and experienced staff members today. We can help you file for an emergency custody order in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so you can get your child removed from that dangerous situation immediately. You can also contact us online, so reach out for help today.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : March 7, 2024