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Legal Information: North Carolina


Laws current as of December 22, 2023

Can I get an emergency order for temporary custody?

An emergency custody order is a temporary order that only lasts until you go to court and have a full custody hearing. An emergency, ex parte temporary order for custody that would change the living arrangements of a child or changes custody can only be issued if the judge, or the magistrate who acts as a judge, determines that the child is exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury or sexual abuse or if there is a substantial risk that the child may be abducted or removed from the state of North Carolina.1

Filing for emergency custody is a complicated process, and it is recommended that you consult with an attorney to see if you may qualify for it.

If North Carolina is not the “home state” of your child but you and your child are in North Carolina, you can file for emergency custody if the child has been abandoned or if a custody order is necessary to protect the child because you, the child, or a sibling of the child has been threatened with or subjected to abuse.1 You may also request temporary custody through a domestic violence protective order. For more information on the process, please see our NC Domestic Violence Protective Orders (“50B orders”) page.

1 NCGS §§ 50A-204; 50-13.5(d)(3)