The Courts Cannot Shut Down Certain Things
Video Transcribed: Emergency custody in Oklahoma during the pandemic, is the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is that going to be a basis to get a modification and are the courts even still open? I’m Oklahoma attorney James Wirth and we’re about to talk about emergency custody during the court shutdown.
All right, so you may have heard or even if you haven’t, I’ll tell you right now. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has put out rules that have limited greatly what can be done in courts right now during this lockdown isolation period.
And those things include emergencies, and that typically includes emergency custody, guardianship, protective orders and bond hearings. There’s some other things that can be done as well, but those are the primary ones.
But the relevant one here is going to be emergency custody. So yes, the court is still open to emergencies. But what does it take to get an emergency in Oklahoma?
If you can’t get a court date on something else, can you meet that standard for an emergency? It’s pretty difficult. The standard is high. Essentially, we’re looking at where a child is in danger.
And the standard is imminent danger of irreparable harm. It has to be irreparable meaning that it’s permanent, so it can’t wait, and it has to be imminent, meaning we can’t wait for a normally-set hearing, which is taking longer now to get than otherwise.
But imminent danger of irreparable harm is the standard that must be met for that. So if you’re in circumstances where your child is in imminent danger of irreparable harm, then you need to file for an emergency. That is still open to you.
It’s generally being done right now through email and phone. It’s more complicated than normal, so you’re probably going to want an attorney. Normally, you’d want an attorney on something like this, but right now just getting into court can be difficult on it, so you definitely would want an attorney on it.
The other thing that we need to talk about is show cause hearing. So when you get an emergency, it’s ex parte, meaning that only one side is heard. So if you’ve got the emergency where your child is in danger, then you present that.
The other side doesn’t have an opportunity to really to respond to it. And then it’s going to be set for a show cause hearing later. So the order’s granted now but then at a show cause the other side gets to say, “Well, this shouldn’t be one,” and we have an evidentiary hearing at that time.
So are those evidentiary hearings on the show cause being held? There’s some debate on that right now, and that may be specific judge to judge. It’s not technically an emergency hearing, but if you’re the party that’s being denied your visitation time, that can obviously be important and it can be detrimental to the child.
So different judges may handle that differently, but certainly you can get the emergency. The show cause may be delayed. But also to get that emergency, you generally need firsthand knowledge or you need a report from law enforcement or from a DHS case worker, medical providers, something along those lines with some firsthand knowledge.
So it’s a difficult standard to make. You’re probably going to want an attorney for it. If you’re in these circumstances, you’re not going to want this general advice. You’re going to want to talk to an attorney to get specific advice. That is something my office can handle for you, if you’re looking for a consultation. Just go to makelaweasy.com and you can see how to contact us.