Ex Parte Applications in California
An ex parte application is a request asking the court to make emergency orders. In California, the court cannot grant an ex parte application unless it finds that there is some sort of emergency, and if the court does not grant the orders, harm is almost certain to occur.
Most situations do not rise to this level. Examples of emergencies which would require the court's immediate intervention almost always involve either child custody or domestic violence. For instance, if a child was going to be permanently removed from the state of California, or if the child was in some sort of physical danger, the court would intervene. Temporary restraining orders are routinely granted where one parent is planning to move out of the state or has threatened to kidnap the children. They are also granted where here is physical abuse in the household, and where one parent has physically attacked, or threatened to attack, the child. Other emergency situations might include one parent being unable to care for the child due to mental illness, threats of suicide, being homeless, alcohol or drug use, or child neglect.
If there is domestic violence in the home, the court would issue temporary custody orders, as well. In fact, if one parent has committed domestic violence within the last five years, it is presume that parent should not have custody of the children. Normally, the court will look to some sort of recent actions before issuing a temporary order on this basis. Recent acts of domestic violence are, in and of itself, a reason for the court to issue temporary restraining orders for an award of custody to the other parent. These are commonly referred to as CLETS orders. If there has been some sort of incident, or a history of domestic violence plus recent threats, the courts will err on the side of caution and give the requesting party a at least temporary domestic violence orders. These order will include an order that the offending party stay at least 100 yards away from the other party. The court can also include orders for custody, Visitation, child support, and spousal support.
Although money issues are normally not a basis to bring an ex parte request, there are exceptions. For instance, if one party has hidden money from the other, the court will often issue an ex parte order freezing that money. If the parties' home is in danger of imminent foreclosure, the court may order that home to be immediately sold. If the children's daycare or school tuition must be paid or the children will be dis-enrolled, the court will issue an order that the tuition be paid.
The process for an ex parte in the county of Riverside as of the date of this blog is as follows: paperwork is filed in any courthouse in the county by 12 noon. The court notifies the moving party whether the order was granted, denied, or it needs more information. If the restraining order is granted the court sets a hearing within three weeks. If the order is denied, a hearing date is set about two months away. If the court needs more information, the moving party must notify the other side by that evening, telling him or her they are both ordered to court the next day. The court then asks questions of both sides and either denies the application or makes a temporary order, which is good for about three weeks.
The court will also set the matter for a full hearing. This allows each side to tell his or her side of the story through witnesses and other evidence.
At time of the hearing, the court will make either dissolve the temporary orders to make a more permanent order. If the orders involve domestic violence, the court has the power to grant CLETS orders for up to five years. If the more permanent orders involve a divorce or paternity issue, and a judgment has not yet been entered, the orders issued at the hearing on the ex parte will only be good until time of trial.
If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta or Hemet areas of Riverside county, California, and you have any questions about the ex parte process, or simply have a family law or divorce related question, please feel free to contact our office to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers at (951) 587-0505.