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 January 29, 2020

What Is an Ex Parte Custody Order?

They've both reached breaking point

An ex parte custody order gives temporary emergency custody to one parent based solely on that parent’s testimony that the child is in danger, with no notice being given to the other parent. This order is typically issued without giving notice to the other party in the legal matter.

In the case of an ex parte custody order, the judge gives temporary custody to one parent without first notifying the other parent of the request.

The role of an ex parte custody order

Typically, anytime a court considers issues regarding the custody of a child, it insists on doing so with all the information. In other words, the judge wants to hear from both parents before determining what custody arrangement will best suit the child’s emotional and physical well-being.

However, the judge will entertain issuing an ex parte custody order based solely on your testimony when a threat of danger to your child requires that the judge act urgently. The judge will also give strong consideration in situations where notifying the respondent parent of a custody hearing or order might prompt the parent to remove the child.

Depending upon the state in which you live, there are specific rules for how you go about getting an ex parte order and the length of time they are effective before they require a full hearing on the custody matter.

How to get an ex parte custody order

If you’re concerned for the safety of your child, you can request that a court issue an emergency ex parte order of custody. The court will grant your request if, and only if, you can convince the judge that in their current situation, your child is in immediate risk of physical or psychological harm.

If the judge issues the emergency ex parte order, they will schedule a hearing to take place in a few days or weeks (depending on the state). The court will notify the other parent of this hearing, who can fully participate with any objection to the continuation of the ex parte order. The decision of whether to continue lies with the judge.

What to expect if the judge denies your request

The judge might not issue the ex parte order at the time of the parent’s initial request. In this case, they are still required to schedule a hearing to resolve the matter.

Leading up to the hearing, and even after, if the judge arrives at the decision that the child is in fact at risk of physical danger or psychological harm, they have the authority to issue an emergency ex parte order for the protection of the child. Furthermore, the judge may take the matter even further by advising the Department of Children and Families of the situation so they can follow up with an investigation.

Possible provisions in an ex parte custody order

Within the scope of the emergency order, temporary child custody or visitation rights may apply. In addition, the order may mandate that the respondent-parent:

  • Not take the child outside of the state
  • Not interfere with the requesting (applicant) parent’s custody of the child
  • Not interfere with the child’s education
  • Act in any way that interferes with the child’s best interests

When a judge could issue an ex parte custody order

A judge will strongly consider an ex parte custody order if they believe that the child in question is being abused physically or sexually. However, the court will want to see some proof of this abuse — beyond the words of the moving party before issuing the order. For example, you can demonstrate that the respondent parent has a history of domestic violence and has made verbal threats against you and/or your child if you try to take custody.

Other various conducts regarding the child might warrant an ex parte order, but these conditions differ from one state to the next.

Obtaining legal counsel to assist you in your custody order

Few of life’s challenges demand careful attention to “getting it right” like issues that relate to protecting your family.

Many parents opt to seek the advice of a family law attorney who understands what judges look for in a request for an ex parte custody order and can help strategize arguments that will result in the order being issued. In addition, remarriage is an ideal time to reconsider child custody arrangements.

LegalShield membership offers affordable plans that give you ready access to a lawyer for an ex parte custody order in addition to other common personal legal issues. There’s no risk to trying. You can cancel your plan at any time, for any reason.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice or assistance. If you are a LegalShield Member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm.


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