The Basics of Emergency Custody of Minor Children in Arkansas

If you need to get emergency custody over a grandchild or your minor niece or nephew it can be a stressful time. You need a law firm and Arkansas attorneys you can trust to help you through the process.

If you need to get emergency custody over a grandchild or your minor niece or nephew it can be a stressful time. You need a law firm and Arkansas attorneys you can trust to help you through the process. ARlaw Partners is here to help you and your family keep your loved ones safe. We can help with emergency custody and/or emergency guardianship.

If you have a loved one with a drug problem or who is facing criminal charges or suffers from mental health problems it can be difficult to deal with. It is even worse when that person has minor children that they are trying to care for. Sometimes, because of drug abuse or other issues, a parent can no longer care for their child. It might be necessary for custody to be taken away from that parent and given to someone else, such as another parent or a family member like a grandparent or, in a worst case scenario, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).


Legal custody of a child can be given to a grandparent or other family member or responsible adult through a guardianship proceeding. Getting legal custody is necessary to make medical and education decisions for a minor. It also prevents a parent with a drug problem from removing the child from your care and placing him or her in a harmful situation. A guardianship is a legal proceeding, meaning papers have to be filed with a court and a judge has to decide that the guardianship is needed. If it is, the judge will sign a court order giving the family member custody.


The parents of the minor can either agree to the guardianship, if they are able, or there will be a court hearing to decide whether the parents are qualified and suitable to care for the minor. If there is a fear that the child will be harmed while in the parents’ care or if a guardianship is needed immediately to get the child medical care or enroll them in school, then papers may be filed asking the judge to grant emergency custody. This will allow the judge to sign an order right away giving guardianship to someone other than the parents and ensure that a hearing is set as soon as possible. The parents still have to be told of the court proceeding and must be given a chance to come to court and explain why they should keep custody of their child or children.

At the hearing the judge will look at evidence and hear testimony of the parents’ inability to care for the child. The judge can also order that the parents be drug tested. If the judge finds that the parents cannot care for the child, then the guardianship order will be granted or extended and the grandparents or other responsible adult will be awarded custody of the child. The parents may be ordered to pay child support and may even be given visitation, but they will not have a say over where the child lives, or education or medical decisions for the child.


Being a guardian is a big responsibility. The guardian of the child has the duty to keep the child safe and to ensure that the child is receiving an education and the medical care that they need. If the guardian is aware that the parent is a danger to the child, the guardian must ensure that the child is safe during any visitation between the child and the parent.


A guardianship of a minor ends when the child turns eighteen. It can also end if the parents later become able to care for the child and go back to court to have the guardianship order dismissed. Even if the parents are later able to care for a child, the guardian should never give the child back to the parents before the judge dismisses the guardianship and closes the court case.

If you need help with getting a guardianship or emergency custody, feel free to contact ARlaw Partners. We have lawyers with years of experience in family law, child custody, and guardianship. Our offices are located in Little Rock and Fayetteville, but we help people all over Arkansas. We offer free consultations and payment plans. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.