What Is an Ex Parte Custody Order?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

What Is an Ex Parte Custody Order?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

An ex parte order is a legal document filed with the court without notifying the other spouse. You can submit ex parte orders for custody matters, the prevention of immediate bodily harm, or the prevention of financial damage. These orders provide immediate relief, as opposed to waiting weeks to schedule a court hearing. Additionally, the court typically provides temporary relief until the parties plan a more formal hearing on the matter.

Woman holding baby sitting at a desk with open laptop reading paperwork

How to File an Ex Parte Custody Order

For custody matters, you can file an ex parte order to protect your child. For example, you can request this order if the child suffers from physical or mental abuse. Some states offer these orders for failure to pay child support or not following another court order. However, you'll need to review your state laws for the requirements for the issuance of an ex parte custody order.

If the court grants the order, then the court may remove the child from the other parent, prevent the other parent from interfering in the child's educational plans, or take any additional actions in the best interests of the child. If an ex parte order affects the other parent's rights to see the child, such as in custody or visitation issues, the court may request additional proof before issuing its ruling. Because child visitation and custody issues are involved, you may want to engage an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate this emergent process.

How to Obtain an Ex Parte Custody Order

To get an ex parte custody order, you must experience an emergency. A judge will not issue this order if you're just upset about the custody arrangement of your children. It has to be an emergency.

In most court proceedings, the other party receives notice of the issues disputed and the court date. When issuing an ex parte order, the other spouse isn't notified, giving more weight to the emergent situation.

To get an ex parte order, you'll need to petition the court. Your local family court or a family attorney can help you file the required documents. You'll receive a court date within a couple of days. If the judge grants the order, the court will set a more formal hearing within a couple of weeks. The other parent will be notified of the hearing once the hearing is set. At the hearing, the other parent can present his or her case to the judge.

Benefits of an Ex Parte Custody Order

When a judge issues an ex parte custody order, it gives the court system support in the decision-making. The other party must comply with this order immediately. If the other parent refuses to comply with the order, then you can take the other parent back to court for a contempt hearing, where the court will issue penalties or jail time to the other spouse.

Additionally, when you file for an ex parte custody order, you can appear in front of the judge in a couple of days, as opposed to several weeks, as is familiar with a traditional hearing. Consequently, you can resolve your emergency quickly, removing your children from harm.

If you're in an emergency situation with your child, consider hiring an attorney to help you resolve this issue. A qualified family attorney can help you navigate through this emotional process, giving you and your children the protection you seek.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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