Emergency Custody Relief in Pennsylvania – Does it Exist?

Pennsylvania’s Child Custody Act permits a court to award a custody litigant emergency relief in certain limited circumstances. Pa. Rule of Civil Procedure 1915.13 provides that “[a]t any time after commencement of the action, the court may on application or its own motion grant appropriate interim or special relief. The relief may include, but is not limited to, the award of temporary legal or physical custody and other remedies.

The court has discretion to determine whether an emergency truly exists. Some courts do not believe that an emergency exists when a parent will not let the other parent see the child. If a parent intends to remove the child from Pennsylvania or if a child has been physically abused, the court may be more inclined to grant emergency relief. However, each case is fact specific and there is no bright line rule for determining whether an emergency exists.

If you believe you have an urgent child custody issue, you should immediately meet with an experienced child custody attorney to learn about your options. An emergency petition should not be filed in haste because doing so can backfire on a parent.  

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