Going through a divorce (or any family law case) can create anxiety and become consuming for the parties involved. It is easy for family court judges and attorneys to become jaded by the volume of domestic issues they deal with on a daily basis. However, the average family law litigant has little to no experience with the court system. Considering the sensitive nature of family law cases, it is not surprising that litigants become frantic as each new problem or issue arises. Despite the sensitive nature of family law requests, it can be months for a litigant to obtain relief from the court.
In the case of true emergencies, the court offers ex parte hearings, which will be conducted with notice of twenty-four hours or less. However, ex parte relief will only be granted in a limited number of circumstances. Pursuant to the California Rules of Court, the Court will grant relief on an emergency basis in the following cases:
Make orders to prevent an immediate danger or irreparable harm to a party or to the children involved in the matter;
Make orders to help prevent immediate loss or damage to property subject to disposition in the case; or
Make orders about procedural matters, including the following:
a.) Setting a date for a hearing on the matter that is sooner than that of a regular hearing (granting an order shortening time for a hearing)
b.) Shortening or extending the time required for a moving party to serve the other party with the notice of the hearing and supporting papers (grant an order shortening time for service) and
c.) Continuing a hearing or trial.
Family law litigants will often run into court (or insist their attorneys run into court) requesting relief on an ex parte basis. However, as stated above, the requesting party must justify the lack of notice for his or her request with immediate danger, irreparable harm, to prevent immediate loss or damage to property, or for procedural issues. It is important for parties to carefully consider their decision to request emergency relief before filing a motion with the court. Too many unfounded ex parte requests will begin to create a "boy who cried wolf" reputation for the litigant. This means that if emergency relief is really necessary in the case, the court may not take the request seriously.