It depends. The procedure for obtaining emergency custody is an “ex parte” process, meaning the court only hears testimony from the party filing the motion. The other side does not participate in the initial determination. To ensure the process is not abused by litigants, Oklahoma has strict requirements for seeking emergency custody. First, an application for emergency custody is presented to the Court. This application must include first-hand knowledge of facts showing that “irreparable harm” will result to the child. “Irreparable harm” is a high burden of proof. The possibility that harm may occur is not considered sufficient to acquire an emergency order. “Irreparable harm” is generally interpreted by Judges to mean physical harm to the child. If available, an independent report is helpful to show that the child is in surroundings which endanger the safety of the child and if the conditions continue, irreparable harm will result. This report can be from the Department of Human Services (DHS) in investigating abuse or neglect, a police report, or a report from the child’s physician or psychologist. The parent must verify the facts under oath and the parent’s signature must be notarized. Statements from the child about things occurring at the other parent’s home or statements from friends and family members are usually considered hearsay and not sufficient.

The client must be present when the application for emergency custody is presented to the Court. Some Judges will take testimony from the client at that time, although Judges have seventy-two (72) hours to conduct a hearing on the application.

Some Judges will not grant a parent emergency custody unless there is an ongoing investigation of the allegations by DHS.

If the Court grants the application for emergency custody, it becomes enforceable immediately. A formal hearing on the application is set within ten (10) days to allow the other side to participate and defend against any allegations.

If a parent presents false allegations to the Court in seeking emergency custody, they will be required to pay attorney fees and costs for the other parent.

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