Ex Parte Orders And Hearings
While both parties are generally required to appear in court for hearings to resolve issues in a Florida divorce, in some situations, the court can enter ex parte orders with only one party in court. Although the spouse who is not present when the court enters the order may think the ex parte hearing is unfair, the law does allow a court to do this.
Ex parte orders are issued to deal with emergency petitions by one party. The initial step in deciding whether to allow an ex parte motion and grant the requested relief, is for the court to decide if there is a true emergency. Ex parte orders may generally be granted if there is evidence of abuse, or if the children of the marriage are about to be removed from the State. For example, if one spouse has evidence that the other spouse is abusive to her or the couple’s children, a court may enter an ex parte order of protection.
Courts are not supposed to grant ex parte orders without credible evidence. Therefore, when a person makes allegations of abuse for example, the allegations must be based on firsthand knowledge, or the petition must be accompanied by sworn affidavits from other witnesses. While the court is interested in making sure that the children are protected, the court has a duty to ensure that it does not enter an order that negatively affects the other parent without giving him an opportunity to respond and without credible evidence of dangerous behavior.
When a court enters an order after an ex parte hearing, the court sets another hearing date soon after, usually within a matter of weeks. The spouse who was not present during the ex parte hearing has to be notified of that later hearing and given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made in the petition for an emergency order. At the hearing, the court has to decide whether to continue the emergency order on a temporary or permanent basis, or to dismiss it altogether.
Once a person receives notice of a hearing following the grant of an ex parte emergency order, he should contact an experienced attorney. Representing yourself at this hearing is not advisable. It is also important to respond to the notice regarding the hearing in order to avoid a default judgement.
Ex parte orders may sometimes be confused with temporary orders that are issued when someone initially files for divorce. When one spouse files for temporary support or sole parental responsibility, both spouses are given an opportunity to present affidavits and other evidence before the court makes its decision. Temporary orders can stay in place until the final order dissolving the marriage is entered.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
Whether you are in an emergency situation and need an order to stop your spouse from moving the children out of state, or you are considering a divorce and want to ask the court for temporary child support or spousal support, contact our experienced child support lawyers at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida, for more information.