Undergoing A Family Court Emergency Screening

A Family Court Emergency Screening is an in-depth court investigation conducted by a Screener/Investigator who assists the court in assessing the immediate health, safety and welfare needs of children whose parents are involved in custody proceedings. 

An Emergency Screening is generally ordered after there have been allegations of child abuse or other mistreatment of children. Whether you are the parent that made the allegations, or if you are the parent responding to allegations of child abuse, it is imperative that you understand the emergency screening process. 

Here, we discuss 5 key elements involving an Emergency Screening in Santa Clara County: 

#1 The Judge’s Referral

Generally, one or both parents will file a motion with the court alleging some form of child abuse, mistreatment, conduct or activity that endangers or harms the child(ren). At the hearing the Judge may refer your case to an Emergency Screening if he/she believes the allegations warrant further investigation. 

#2 Prepare for Screening

Once your case has been referred to an emergency screening it is important to begin preparing shortly thereafter, as Screenings are generally scheduled very soon after the Judge has referred your case to screening. In most cases you will want to present the Screener with a strong and compelling Declaration clearly stating your position and provide supporting documents and evidence. The Family Law attorneys at The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc. prepare their client’s and supporting documents to ensure that screening is a success. 

#3 The Screening/Investigation

On the day of screening, each parent will be asked to complete a questionnaire, and once it has been completed, the Screener will generally meet with the attorneys first, if the parents are represented by counsel. The attorneys will present their client’s position to the screener and provide persuasive argue. The Screener will then continue their investigation by meeting with or speaking to the children, witnesses, healthcare providers, educators, or interested parties. The screener also has access to criminal records and files, CPS Reports, and advanced databases containing confidential information. Many Screenings take the entire day, so be prepared to wait.

#4 Screener’s Recommendations

Once the Screener has completed their investigation, they will prepare written recommendations, which can include any number of proposed orders such as alcohol/drug testing, attend parenting classes, or restricting the child’s contact with certain people. If the parents agree to the screeners recommendations they can sign it, and the Judge will then make it an Order of the Court, and no further hearings will be necessary. 

#5 Having a Hearing after Screeners Recommendation:

If either or both parents have objections to the Screeners recommendations, the Screener will then notify the Judge that a hearing will be required. A hearing will then be held to determine if the recommendations are appropriate. At the hearing each parent or their attorney will be able to question the Screener on the witness stand. The judge has the discretion to make changes to, strike language or delete any or all of the Screeners recommendations. The Judge can also adopt the Screeners recommendations in its entirety and make it a court order. 

The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc. is a law firm dedicated to helping our client’s achieve their objectives and goals. We’re also a family oriented firm and we take pride in fighting passionately to achieve a successful outcome for our clients and their families. 

An Emergency Screening can seem like an overwhelming and intimidating situation, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re represented by experienced legal counsel. Contact The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc. today to schedule your consultation with Family Law Attorney, William W. Winters.