Written by Canterbury Law Group

How To Get Emergency Child Custody In Arizona


You may need to seek emergency child custody in Arizona (also known as legal decision making) when a situation threatens your child or children’s well-being. There are a specific set of guidelines you will need to adhere to in order to obtain emergency child custody in Arizona.

What Is an Emergency Child Custody Order?

A temporary order or emergency child custody order temporarily grants one parent or the other sole physical and legal custody for the child or children in question.

The order gives all the power to make decisions to the person or party who has the physical custody of the child or children for a limited amount of time until the court can hear the full case. Normally, the court only advances these orders into place when the child or children is facing potentially irreparable or significant harm.

Is Emergency Custody Something I Qualify For?

Emergency custody is not easy to obtain because the burden of proof must be carried by the person or party who petitioning for the temporary order.  The chances of obtaining emergency custody orders are exceptionally low, and you should expect to lose your motion.  Most judges will deny the initial ‘emergency’ motion for custody orders and instead set the matter for a normal hearing schedule where both sides can brief the issues and present live testimony at an evidentiary hearing.

Therefore, it is important the petitioner presents evidence that is substantial in order to document the situation to show it is a true emergency. This is where the services are of a family law attorney can be invaluable. Filing for temporary custody orders is not something you should take lightly. However, it is certainly a valid option if you think a child or children are at risk of imminent bodily harm or the welfare, safety, and health of a child or children is in serious jeopardy.

Another qualifying factor is you must also be concurrently filing a petition that would change the custody of the child or children. For example, a concurrent parenting time modification request, paperwork for a divorce or a change in legal decision-making responsibilities. The paperwork may already be pending, or it can be filed at the same time as your motion for temporary orders.

Penalties For False Claims

All filings to the Court are filed under penalty of perjury.  Petitions to the court are considered to be very serious by the court system. Frivolous filings will result in short-shrift from the system if there is not a genuine emergency. It is not acceptable to file a motion on the grounds that you may just be mad at the other parent. Indeed, the judge may find you in contempt of court and order you to pay the court costs as well as the costs and legal fees the other party has had accrued if the reason for the petition turns out to be false or unsubstantiated.

What Is The Length Of Emergency Child Custody In Arizona?

If your motion for temporary custody orders is granted, the order will only last until the court can schedule a more lengthy hearing that will decide custody on a more permanent solution.  While courts will usually host the next hearing within 30 days, and sometimes as quickly as 2 weeks, depending on the availability of the Court. See Title 25-404 for more details.

Guidelines For Filing For An Emergency Custody Order Of A Child Or Children In Arizona

In Arizona, there is a rule known as “Rule 48.” The rules say if two conditions are met, emergency custody of a child or children may be granted without the need to notify the other party. The two rules are:

  1. The person making the emergency custody request or the child or children may be at risk of harm if notice is given to the other person.
  2. There have been unsuccessful attempts at giving notice.

Temporary Filing Custody Steps

1. Filling Out The Paperwork

You can obtain the forms and instructions for filing them in Maricopa County here.

When you read the paperwork, it will clearly explain why the order is needed and to explain why there is an emergency situation. You do need to make sure this situation is truly an emergency before proceeding – you have to include as much evidence and factual detail as you possibly can. During this process of assembling facts to prove there is an emergency, the assistance of an attorney can be very important.

The form must be signed and dated in front of a notary public. You will be able to take care of this at the court.

2. Copy The Paperwork

All told you will have four copies of the paperwork. The original that you keep and three copies that you leave behind with the Clerk of Court after you file.

3. Filing The Papers At The Court

Take the four copies of your paperwork to the clerk of the court. You can use this website to find out where your paperwork must be filed or if you need to ask further questions regarding the process.

What Takes Place In A Hearing For Emergency Custody?

The court will usually schedule the initial hearing with very little delay – often without the other parent being present. You will have to present the evidence you have been able to gather and present it under penalty of perjury. Examples of this can include:

  • Photos
  • Sworn statements
  • Testimonies from agencies such as Child Protective Services
  • Medical Records

The judge will have to decide if there is sufficient evidence and if so, they will then issue an emergency order. The order will stand until a follow-up hearing where the other party is able to present evidence that defends against the allegations made against your evidence. This timeframe will differ from court to court depending on how busy the court dockets are.



“How Do I Get Emergency Custody In Arizona?” Arizona Legal Center, 5 Nov. 2018, arizonalegalcenter.org/emergency-custody-arizona/.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and we always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will fiercely represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

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