An ex parte order is any court order that is issued when one party is not present at the hearing.  Such hearings are called “ex parte” hearings or ex parte judgments.  Ex parte hearings are allowed in various circumstances, most notably when it is an emergency situation and the other party can’t be contacted, or if the petitioner needs immediate relief or protection.

In a family law setting, the most common type of ex parte order is an emergency or temporary restraining order.  These are issued without the other party being present, and are common in cases that involve abuse or violence.  As in most proceedings, the other party still should have formal notice of the hearing.  However, if they don’t respond, the court may decide to continue with the hearing in an ex parte format.

Can Ex Parte Hearings be Appealed If One Party Isn’t at the Hearing?

This can be tricky- in most cases, ex parte judgments aren’t actually finally judgments, and only final judgments are immediately appealable.    Ex parte rulings typically involve short-term decisions that may expire after a certain date, or that will be replaced by a more permanent ruling once the formal trial is completed. 

However, the defendant may have other options for relief against an ex parte ruling.  For example, they may be able to have the entire case vacated, or they can challenge on certain other procedural grounds.  These can often be somewhat complicated and usually require the input and assistance of a lawyer.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With an Ex Parte Order?

Ex parte orders are very powerful tools that can produce legal effects in a very short period of time.  Also, they can be difficult to deal with, since one party is not even present at the hearing.  If you need help with an ex parte order such as an ex parte restraining order, you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately.  Your lawyer can help you get protection immediately.  Or, if you need help challenging an ex parte ruling, an attorney can help you with that as well.