Ex Parte Orders and Pendente Lite Relief

The dictionary defines ex parte as a Latin term meaning from (by/for) a party without the other party being present. However, the very basis of American jurisprudence is to have all representative parties available to present their sides. In fact, the fifth and fourteen amendments to the United States Constitution provide for what’s called due process of law.

Due process of law usually means adequate notice for judicial relief and the right to be heard concerning the merits of the judicial relief sought. In other words, no court appearances without both sides being present, and enough notification to the other parties of a court hearing scheduled (usually 30 days).

That said, there are times when justice demands immediate relief, and 30 days’ notice will be too late to provide that relief. Keep in mind that the form of relief provided will be temporary. To provide permanent relief, would clearly deny the other party of due process of law.

Domestic violence protection orders are good examples of the use of the ex parte process. The fear of violence is imminent, and 30 days’ notice can cause further harm to the party seeking protection. In some situations, no notice to the other party may be acceptable. However, a 24 hours’ notice to the other party may be required. (For help with applying for a temporary restraining order see your local court’s family law facilitator.)

The dictionary defines pendent lite as a Latin term meaning “pending the litigation” or “awaiting the litigation.” In divorce cases, the term is used to describe temporary court orders in effect until the divorce is final, such as temporary spousal and/or child support, child visitation, et cetera. A divorce takes a minimum of six months to be resolved, usually longer when children and/or property issues are involved, and temporary orders are needed to maintain the status quo.

Unlike ex parte orders, pendent lite orders do not need immediate relief, and notice or hearing to the other party must be provided; however, the time-frame for notice may be reduced to 20 days’ notice instead of 30 days’ notice. (Again, your attorney will be know the notice requirements, or you can request help for your local court’s family law facilitator.)

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