Foxtrot FAQ: What is an emergency and how does Foxtrot handle it?
From Foxtrot’s perspective, an Emergency is something that is an immediate threat to your life, liberty or property. In most cases, if you have an emergency, before calling your attorney you should call 911. (Side note: my answer to so many “what if this happens…” questions is “call 911; this Court order or pending case has nothing to do with an immediate threat to you or your family.”
What’s interesting, now that I think about it, is that Co-Parents and Relative Caregivers in Child Custody cases downplay real emergencies by trying to call their lawyer instead of law enforcement and exaggerate non-emergencies, contacting law enforcement in reaction to routine albeit frustrating Child Custody situations (e.g., filing police reports when a Co-Parent doesn’t show up for visitation). The armchair psychologist in me theorizes that each individual, myself included, have a “default level” at which we react, respond, and operate, meaning that we operate at our comfort level even if things are more or less serious than we treat them. This might be emotionally beneficial , depending on what that default level is, but actions and behaviors should be catered to the circumstances.
What is NOT an emergency?
A missed visit – DON’T file a police report – DO mark it on your Google Calendar – DO send your Child Custody lawyer a quick email or text about the incident so the firm can make a note in the file and follow up with further advice. (Most Courts won’t take significant action on one missed visit but your lawyer can advise you on when and how it’s appropriate to bring visitation issues to the Court’s attention).
A missed or late Child Support Payment – DON’T call your Co-Parent or whoever owes you support and harass them. It does little good but start a fight, unless that’s what you want (and I know some of you do;), but it’s a really bad idea. First, we’ve all been in a pinch and there might be a very good reason why the payment is late – DO send your Child Custody lawyer a quick email or text about the incident so the firm can make a note in the file and follow up with further advice (notice a theme?). (Most Courts won’t take significant action on one missed visit but your lawyer can advise you on when and how it’s appropriate to bring visitation issues to the Court’s attention).
(HOLD ON, STEPHEN! Aren’t I getting charged extra for all these emails, calls, notes or texts to my Child Custody attorney! The way my Co-Parent acts my attorney’s fees will be ridiculous! – Great question, and our answer in NO! Learn more about Foxtrot’s “Flat Fee” Representation here.)
What is an Emergency?
Someone is at my home and won’t leave – call law enforcement and get your children and yourself safe before reaching out to your Child Custody attorney. Pleeease speak with your attorney before hauling off to the Courthouse the next day to file a PFA (also known as a restraining order). The PFA dockets are rife with abuse of the system and most parties lose credibility, rather than gain it, during the PFA process. It’s an option, but PLEASE speak with an attorney before filing anything with any Court, even a PFA.
Someone has been arrested – whether it’s a Co-Parent, your boyfriend or girlfriend, the parent of your Grandchild or niece or nephew, or most importantly, YOU, this is an emergency and you need to contact your Child Custody attorney before speaking to anyone, even family (family members can be subpoenaed regarding statements made to them).
You or someone in your family has been significantly injured – call the police first and call us second. Co-Parents and other Caring Relatives have a right to know about your condition and your ability to care for your children, but we need to develop Game Plan for how to deliver that information, how to get you proper care and resources you need, and how to protect the family situation and Custody/Visitation orders you have worked so hard and invested so much to build.
What does Foxtrot do in an actual emergency?
Foxtrot can contact personnel in the Court system to “give them a heads up” that an emergency motion or some other filing is coming their way. We are NOT allowed to contact Judges directly except through “Ex Parte” pleadings filed with the Court. We then prepare those filings, have them signed as necessary by clients and or other witnesses and file them with the Court as quickly as possible. This is important because law enforcement can only take certain actions on explicit court authority or with a court order.
Foxtrot can make ourselves available to communicate with first responders like law enforcement and let them know what, if any, active cases or representation relates to your emergency. Right or wrong, a Police Officer or Sheriff’s Deputy is more inclined to speak with an attorney than a citizen who may be frantic or may simply not know how to explain what’s going on.
Lastly, if you or a loved one is significantly injured or ill, and though we specialize in Child Custody and pride ourselves on being the experts that other lawyers send complex Child Custody cases to, we run in circles of other kinds of specialists who operate “on our level” and we can get you in with these selective specialists in other fields who work with us and your family to make sure you are getting the best representation and counsel in all your matters.