Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Emergency Injunctions in Custody and Divorce Cases

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Family Law in General » Emergency Injunctions in Custody and Divorce Cases

In some situations, a court can grant an emergency injunction as part of a divorce or custody case.  That emergency injunction can be used to prevent parental kidnapping, injury to children, or other serious harm.  Since an emergency injunction is a court Order, it can be enforced by the police, the sheriff, or any other law enforcement agency.  Amber alerts can also be issued as a result.


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There are situations where a parent has reason to fear that the other parent will abduct, parentally kidnap, or otherwise harm the child.  Sometimes that is the result of threats that the other parent makes.  Other times, some action on the part of a parent (such as driving drunk with the child in the car, or allowing a dangerous person to babysit) make it wise to seek an emergency injunction.

In the state of Illinois, the Circuit Court has the power to issue emergency injunctions.  In the state of Iowa, it is the District Court that can issue emergency injunctions. The process for seeking an emergency injunction involves preparing the proper legal documents and evidence, so that the judge who take up the matter can be shown that the emergency injunction is truly needed.

It is important to note that court are reluctant to grant emergency injunctions unless there is a very good reason to do so.  That is because the injunction process can be easily abused by a parent who wants to maliciously cause harm to the other parent.  For example, imagine a situation in which the parents of a child have separated, but have been sharing time with the child though an informal agreement that they reached.  One parent may have planned to take the child on a vacation to see relatives, after having gotten agreement from the other other parent.  Then, the day before the scheduled vacation, the other parent fabricates a story about parental kidnapping, thereby blocking the vacation and causing great expense and hardship.  Since the emergency injunction would be granted without the knowledge of the parent who planned the vacation, there would be no chance for the court to hear both sides, which makes the emergency injunction process one that can be abused rather easily. Such situations can and do happen, which is why courts are careful when it comes to granting emergency injunctions.


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For those reasons, a parent who is seeking an emergency injunction – or who was just served with an emergency injunction – is well advised to seek counsel at once.  Injunctions can have a significant effect, for good or bad, upon a divorce or custody case in Illinois or Iowa.


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