Nothing creates more emergency child custody petitions at Family Court than one parent feeling that the other has neglected or intentionally mistreated a child. Oftentimes, it is just a method of getting a temporary upper hand until a full hearing can occur before a Judge. In the Rhode Island Family Court, one parent can allege that there is an emergency situation that should change the custody and parenting plan (visitation) immediately and even stop the other parent from seeing the child on a temporary basis.
This child custody petition may be granted before the other parent has any notice of the filing. Divorce attorneys refer to these as "ex-parte" matters as the opposing party has no notice of the request at the time it is being made. The order is effective immediately; a hearing will be scheduled within several weeks and the other party must be serviced with the notice of the Court Order and the date of the hearing. During the days that pass before the hearing, one parent's rights may be impaired or even denied.
Recently, a similar situation occurred concerning the Grammy award winning singer Usher, who is divorced and has custody of his children. The couple's 5 year old son fell to the bottom of a pool and became stuck in a pool drain while in the care of the Usher's aunt. A housekeeper tried unsuccessfully to free him; a contractor doing work at the home pulled the boy from the pool and performed CPR. Unlike Rhode Island, the hearing in this matter occurred within days instead of weeks.
After a hearing, the Judge dismissed the mother's request for temporary primary custody and decision making for the children. After hearing testimony, the Judge concluded that he was not certain that anyone could have done anything to prevent the accident. Not all bad events can be avoided even when a parent uses reasonable care.
Rather than being thankful that her child had survived, the mother used the event to revisit the parties' previous custody battle. This is often the case in these types of proceedings. Not only are these proceedings often used to revisit prior parenting plans, they are the result of the failure of a party to find acceptance and closure in order to move forward. Unresolved anger and frustrations cause many of these types of filings. Of course, some of the filings for emergency relief regarding a child's well-being are proper and necessary.
Because of the complexities of these situations and when a parent's judgment may be clouded by strong emotions, a Rhode Island divorce attorney should be consulted to handle either side of these matters.