Fortunately, the California judicial system has in place a procedure to deal with circumstances like these quickly: ex parte hearings.
Ex parte hearings are simply emergency hearings. Depending on a court’s caseload, it can take weeks or even months to get a hearing before a judge.
Ex parte hearings are designed to reduce that time drastically. However, they are only available for true emergencies, when there is a threat of irreparable harm or immediate danger. Examples of factual circumstances that may warrant an ex parte hearing include the following:
- child visitation or custody rights with a parent who leads a dangerous lifestyle;
- a threat of grave injury to a couple’s children; and
- a valid concern about depletion of community funds from a joint account.
In most cases, the person against whom an order will operate, usually the other party to the divorce or custody proceeding, has a right to notice before an ex parte hearing is held. This is because the judge may order relief that contravenes that person’s rights, such as the right to visitation or the right to access his or her own money. However, when absolutely necessary, notice may be avoided. This is only true if providing notice will result in immediate, irreparable harm.
Care must be taken when requesting ex parte relief. If it is requested unnecessarily, it can affect the court’s view of the parties in future proceedings. Judy Burger is experienced in presenting ex parte issues in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. If you believe ex parte relief may be needed in your case, contact her today at (415) 259-6636.