Understanding Ex Parte Child Custody Orders

Understanding Ex Parte Child Custody Orders

Understanding Ex Parte Child Custody Orders

Ex parte proceedings, also called emergency proceedings, are filed when an immediate decision needs to be made in a family law case because of an emergency situation. An ex parte order is an emergency and temporary order. They may be necessary in divorce proceedings, child custody determinations, and domestic violence cases.

Filing for an Ex Parte Order

To file for an emergency hearing to request an ex parte order, you must have a currently active family law case, or you must open one. They can only be filed in cases of emergency, which include:

  • Immediate danger of harm to someone connected with the case, such as you or your child
  • Immediate danger of loss of, or harm to, property

Once you file your papers with the court, you will receive a date and time for the emergency hearing. You must provide notice to the other party, but in extreme circumstances, the judge will waive this and conduct a hearing without you providing notice. This hearing will likely be the same day or the next day for emergency situations. If the judge believes, based on your testimony, that an ex parte order is necessary, they will grant it.

These orders are temporary. A time will be set for a full hearing to determine if the orders will be extended. The other party, who may be your spouse or co-parent, will be notified of this hearing. They can attend to advocate for their interests.

Reasons an Ex Parte Order May Be Needed in a Child Custody Case

An ex parte order in a child custody case may grant temporary legal and/or physical custody to one parent during an emergency. This may be for emergency situations that include:

  • There are allegations of domestic violence.
  • A parent has threatened to leave with the child, and there is credible evidence they will do so.
  • A parent refuses to let the other parent see or visit the child.
  • There are allegations of child abuse or neglect.
  • A parent is engaging in risky behavior that may harm the child.
  • A parent is temporarily unfit to provide care and support to a child because of substance use and/or an unsafe mental health disorder.

The court will hear the reasoning and evidence and determine if it is in the child’s interests to grant the ex parte custody order. This can be challenging because the other parent is not present during an emergency hearing and cannot respond to the allegations being made. If you are a parent trying to get emergency temporary custody of your child, it’s useful to work with a child custody attorney who knows how to use the evidence and information available to argue your case.

Whether the judge grants or denies your ex parte order, there will be another hearing scheduled that the other parent must receive notice about. During this hearing, the judge will hear the arguments of both parties to determine if an ex parte order will be granted, extended, rescinded, or modified. Your attorney can give you the greatest chance at success during both ex parte hearings.

Ex Parte Orders in Other Family Law Cases

Petitions for ex parte orders can be filed for other emergency cases besides child custody cases. The court may issue an ex parte order for emergencies such as:

  • A protective order that orders a harassing or abusive party to stay away from you
  • An order that prevents the other parent of a child from moving with the child out of the county, state, or country
  • An order to prohibit a party from destroying or disposing of marital assets
  • An order to prevent another party from destroying property

These emergency hearings may be done with or without the other party receiving notice, depending on the circumstances.

Important Factors That Influence Child Custody Determination in California


Q: What Are the Grounds for an Ex Parte Order in California?

A: Many situations may require emergency orders in a family law case. Ex parte orders may be granted for temporary child custody, protective orders, or other emergency court orders. Grounds for an ex parte order include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Credible evidence of threatening to leave the state with the child
  • Child neglect or abuse
  • Substance use
  • Child endangerment
  • DUI arrest
  • Sexual abuse

A family law attorney can determine if your situation qualifies you for an ex parte order.

Q: What Are the Rules for an Ex Parte Order in California?

A: A request for an ex parte hearing and order can only be filed in an emergency. This emergency petition can be part of an existing family law case or a new one. An emergency situation includes immediate danger to you, your children, or another person involved in the case, or immediate danger in the form of loss or damage to property. In an emergency hearing, the judge will determine whether to deny or grant the ex parte order based on the evidence you present.

Q: How Long Does an Ex Parte Order Last in California?

A: Ex parte emergency orders last until the hearing date. This is generally within 21 days of the emergency hearing. During the final hearing, the judge will hear evidence from you and the other party. The judge may decide to rescind the ex parte order or extend it. An extended order of protection could last up to 5 years. If an order for child custody is granted, it may be extended or modified.

Q: How Do I Respond to an Ex Parte Custody Order in California?

A: If you have received notice of an emergency ex parte custody order, that means that your co-parent filed for this order and did not have to provide you notice. However, these emergency orders are temporary. There is a final hearing about the matter. It’s essential that you appear at this hearing, ideally with an attorney. This allows you to tell your side of the story. If you don’t appear in court, the existing emergency order may be extended or become permanent without your input.

Contact Bickford Blado & Botros

You may have an urgent need for emergency ex parte orders to protect yourself and your children. You may also be receiving notice of an ex parte order and be unsure how to defend yourself. The attorneys at Bickford Blado & Botros can fight for your interests during an ex parte hearing and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our team today.



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