WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY CUSTODY (TEMPORARY) ORDER?
An emergency custody order, if granted, goes into effect immediately without providing notice to the other party. The most common type of emergency orders deal with minor children.
‘Child abuse or neglect’ or ‘harm’ occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare:
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment
- Abandons the child
- Encourages, condones, or approves the commission of delinquent acts by the child and the commission of the acts are shown to be the result of the encouragement or approval
- Has committed abuse or neglect as described above such that a child who subsequently becomes part of the person’s household is at substantial risk of one of those forms of abuse or neglect
‘Physical injury’ means death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(6)(a), (d), and (f) and S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(20)
‘Child abuse or neglect’ or ‘harm’ occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education as required by law, supervision appropriate to the child’s age and development, or health care even though financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, and the failure to do so has caused or presents a substantial risk of causing physical or mental injury.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(6)(c)
Sexual Abuse/Exploitation Citation
‘Child abuse or neglect’ or ‘harm’ occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare commits or allows to be committed against the child a sexual offense as defined by the laws of this State or engages in acts or omissions that present a substantial risk that a sexual offense as defined in the laws of this State would be committed against the child.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(6)(b)
‘Mental injury’ means an injury to the intellectual, emotional, or psychological capacity or functioning of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment of the child’s ability to function when the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a mental health professional or medical professional.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(16)
‘Abandonment of a child’ means a parent or guardian willfully deserts a child or willfully surrenders physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for the child’s needs or the continuing care of the child.
S.C. Code § 63-7-20(1)
Standards for Reporting
A report is required when a mandatory reporter, in his or her person’s professional capacity, has received information that gives him or her reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-310
Persons Responsible for the Child
The term ‘person responsible for a child’s welfare’ includes:
- The child’s parent, guardian, or foster parent
- An operator, employee, or caregiver, as defined by § 63-13-20, of a public or private residential home, institution, agency, or child care facility
- An adult who has assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child, but who does not necessarily have legal custody of the child
A person has not assumed the role or responsibility of a parent or guardian if that person’s only role is as a caregiver whose contact is only incidental, such as a babysitter, or the person has only incidental contact but may not be a caregiver.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(18)
The term child abuse or neglect excludes corporal punishment or physical discipline that:
- Is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis
- Is perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child
- Is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree
- Has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child
- Is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by the parents
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(6(a)(i)-(v)
A child’s absences from school may not be considered abuse or neglect unless the school has made efforts to bring about the child’s attendance, and those efforts were unsuccessful because of the parents’ refusal to cooperate.
S.C. Ann. Code § 63-7-20(6)(c)
HOW DO I GET AN EMERGENCY CUSTODY ORDER FOR MY CHILD?
This usually done when there is an underlying Separate Maintenance and Support action filed, or a complaint for divorce. Once your complaint is filed, you can file at the same time a motion for an emergency hearing, including in your motion a description of the emergency and why the court should sign it without notifying the other party. You need to describe why the child is in substantial and imminent danger of harm.
WHAT TYPES OF THINGS WOULD THE COURT CONSIDER AS “SUBSTANTIAL AND IMMINENT DANGER OF HARM” DUE TO ABUSE OR NEGLECT
To be considered as substantial and imminent danger of harm, the situation must pose a direct and imminent danger to the child by the action or inaction of another. Some examples are
The child is seriously ill and suffering from extreme malnutrition.
The child is living in extremely dangerous circumstances, i.e., a meth house.
The child has been seriously injured by the parent and it is not an accident.
The child has been touched sexually by an adult
The child looks sick or ill and the parent has not sought medical attention.
The child is living with Mom and Mom is living with a man who was convicted of child abuse and had his children removed from his care.
The child sees you on your weekend visitation and has bruises given to the child by the Mother’s boyfriend who lives in the home.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO SHOW THERE IS “SUBSTANTIAL AND IMMINENT DANGER OF HARM” TO MY CHILD?
You need to document everything, if you see a bruise or notice behavior that you think indicates abuse or neglect, write it down and take photos and videos. Maintain a journal and write down all the instances. At any doctor’s visit you need to make sure the doctor is aware of your evidence and concerns. Keep copies of doctor’s reports and statements from the child and others about the abuse or neglect, as well as text messages and emails.