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Q & A: What is an ex parte court order?

An ex parte order is generally one made on an emergency basis. Notice is not necessarily required, and the judge often issues orders on the paperwork submitted alone, without a formal hearing.

With the exception of abuse-prevention restraining orders, judges are reluctant to grant ex parte orders. Ordinarily, the court will require the other side to have notice of any requests for court orders, and a hearing before the judge will be held.

A declaration, which is a written statement sworn under penalty of perjury of the laws of the State of California, is a mandatory prerequisite to any request for relief, including ex parte requests. This declaration can be included in a judicial council form, or prepared and attached to that form. It is required before a judge will sign an ex parte order. Ex parte orders are generally limited to emergency situations, such as protection orders and emergency custody orders.

When an ex parte order is granted, it is for a limited period of time. Though there may not be an initial hearing on the ex parte papers, the party who did not request the order is entitled to a hearing before the judge after the court issues any order, to determine whether the order should remain in effect.