Emergency custody orders (ECOs) are used when a child is in immediate danger and needs protection. An ECO can be used to remove a child from their current environment if the current living arrangements pose an immediate danger to the child’s welfare or safety.
(NOTE: Often when there are circumstances that warrant the filing of an ECO, there needs to be a referral made to child protective services. It is of vital importance that if you believe a child is being neglected or abused that you report this appropriately. The toll free child abuse hotline in Kentucky is (877) 597-2331.)
An emergency custody order (ECO) is used in situations where a minor child’s welfare is of significant concern and it is believed that the child is either dependent, neglected or abused. An ECO allows for removal of the minor child if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child’s parents or custodian is unwilling or unable to provide for the child and one of the following conditions exists:
(a) The child is in danger of imminent death or serious physical injury or is being sexually abused;
(b) The parent has repeatedly inflicted or allowed to be inflicted by other than accidental means physical injury or emotional injury. This condition shall not include reasonable and ordinary discipline recognized in the community where the child lives, as long as reasonable and ordinary discipline does not result in abuse or neglect as defined in KRS 600.020(1); or
(c) The child is in immediate danger due to the parent’s failure or refusal to provide for the safety or needs of the child. (KRS 620.060(1)(a-c))
An ECO is intended to be used when there is an allegation that the minor child(ren) is dependent, neglected and/or abused. If there is no allegation that the child is in immediate danger or harm or risk of harm, then an ECO is NOT a good option.
ECO’s are not intended to be used for custody disputes. If there is not immediate risk of harm, then a petition or motion can be filed to set or modify custody and timesharing. ECOs are only meant to be used when there are serious concerns for the minor child(ren)s safety.
If you need to file asking for an emergency custody order you will need to:
A decision regarding whether an emergency custody order will be entered is made by the judge. If the ECO is entered a court date will be set within 72 hours. A court date may be set even if the ECO is denied.
Again, it is important to report to Child Protective Services if you believe a dependent child(ren) is neglected and/or abused. You can call the toll free child abuse hotline at (877) 597-2331.