What are the laws governing emergency custody orders in Michigan?

Laws Governing Emergency Custody Orders in Michigan

In the state of Michigan, family law courts are empowered to issue emergency custody orders when a child's safety and welfare are at imminent risk. These orders are designed to provide immediate protection and are typically used in situations where there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or when a child is in danger due to a parent's behavior or incapacity.

Understanding Emergency Custody Orders

An emergency custody order, also known as an ex parte order, can be issued without the presence of both parties; 'ex parte' is a Latin term meaning 'on behalf of one side only.' This type of order allows one parent to obtain temporary custody until a formal hearing can be held where both parties have the opportunity to present their case.

The Legal Process for Obtaining an Emergency Custody Order

To obtain an emergency custody order in Michigan, the concerned parent must file a petition with the family division of the circuit court. The petition must include detailed reasons for requesting the emergency order, including any evidence of harm or potential harm to the child. If the judge determines that there is sufficient evidence to believe that the child is at risk, they may grant temporary custody to the petitioning parent.

It is crucial that any allegations made in the petition are accurate and truthful. Falsifying information can lead to legal consequences and negatively impact future custody hearings.

Criteria Considered by Michigan Courts

Michigan courts consider several factors when deciding whether to issue an emergency custody order:

These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with a primary focus on protecting children from immediate danger.

Duration and Limitations of Emergency Custody Orders

Emergency custody orders in Michigan are temporary and generally remain in effect until a full court hearing takes place. This hearing must usually be scheduled within 14 days after the emergency order is issued. During this subsequent hearing, both parents have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony regarding the necessity of continuing or terminating the temporary custody arrangement.

Historical Reference: The Child Custody Act of 1970

The Child Custody Act of 1970 is a key piece of legislation that underpins modern family law practices related to child custody in Michigan. This act provides the framework for determining custody based on the best interests of the child and allows for emergency intervention when necessary.

Example Case: Smith v. Jones (2015)

In Smith v. Jones, an emergency custody order was issued after one parent was found to be under the influence of drugs while caring for their young child. The court granted temporary custody to the other parent based on evidence presented by a Child Protective Services investigation. The case underscores how emergency orders serve as critical tools for ensuring immediate protection for children at risk.


Emergency custody orders play a vital role in safeguarding children's welfare in Michigan. They allow for swift action when there is credible evidence that a child's safety is compromised. It is essential for parents seeking such orders, or those against whom they are filed, to understand the legal process and criteria used by courts in making these decisions.