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Can a warrant be issued to take physical custody of a child?

In some cases, during a child custody dispute if one party is concerned about the physical safety of his or her child he or she can, alongside a petition seeking a child custody determination, file an application to issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child.

When such an application is made, Florida courts will hear testimony from witnesses and the petitioner of the application. Based on the testimony, if the court finds that a child in the child custody matter is likely to suffer imminent serious physical harm if not removed, then the court can issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child.

The application for the issuance of a warrant to take physical custody of a child must detail the specific facts that show that if the child is not removed then he or she will suffer imminent serious physical harm. In addition, law enforcement charged with executing the warrant must be ordered to take immediate physical custody of child. The application for the warrant must also specifically state where the child will be placed pending the final child custody determination. Finally, the petition seeking a child custody determination, the order and the warrant must be served on the other party. Such warrants are enforceable throughout the state of Florida, and law enforcement is authorized to enter private property and forcibly enter at any time to take custody of the child.

Given the gravity of the issue, under Florida statutes such petitions must be heard before the court the day following the warrant is executed. If a hearing next day is not possible, then it may be held the first possible judicial day. Additionally, the court can apply conditions to make sure the child's guardian and child appear in court. Child custody disputes where the safety of a child is threatened are very serious issues, particularly when a warrant to take physical custody of the child is issued. It may be in the best interest of all sides to have legal representation during such trying times.

Source: 2015 Florida Statutes, "Chapter 61 - Dissolution of Marriage; Support; Time-Sharing," Sec. 61.534, Accessed Aug. 30, 2015

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