Ex Parte Orders in Family Court

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Asking for an Ex Parte Order

This article is not about getting an ex parte personal protection order (PPO). If you need information about getting a PPO, read Overview of Personal Protection Orders.

In general, when someone files a motion in a case, the other party has a right to notice and an opportunity to respond. In most cases there is a hearing where the judge listens to both parties before making a decision. The exception to this process is when a party asks for an ex parte order. An ex parte order is a court order issued before the other party gets notice or an opportunity to respond. It is an order a judge signs without having a hearing first.

Ex parte orders are for emergency situations only. It is rare for judges to grant ex parte orders for custody, parenting time, child support, or other matters involving children. Ex parte orders are only granted when the person asking for the order can prove that:

  • Waiting for a hearing would result in harm that could not be undone, or
  • Giving notice to the other party would cause them to do harm before the judge could issue an order

Currently there is no fill-in-the blank ex parte motion form or ex parte order form for custody, parenting time, or child support. There is also not a form tool on Michigan Legal Help that can help you prepare one. The motion and order can be complicated, and you may want to speak to a lawyer to make sure they are prepared correctly. Continue reading to learn more about how to find a lawyer.

Finding a Lawyer

If you need an ex parte order, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer. A lawyer with experience in family law can advise you on whether asking for an ex parte order is the best choice in your case. A lawyer can also draft your motion and proposed order.

Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you have a low income, you may qualify for free legal services. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer. To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory. This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.

Objecting to an Ex Parte Order

An ex parte order is in effect after the judge signs it, and it is enforceable after it has been served. If an ex parte order is entered against you and you are served with a copy, if you disobey it, the judge can find you in contempt of court. Penalties for contempt of court can include fines and jail time.

To object to an ex parte order, within 14 days after you are served with the order, file an Objection to Ex Parte Order and Motion to Rescind or Modify and serve a copy on the Friend of the Court and the other party. If you received the ex parte order by mail, you have 14 days from the date of mailing to file your objection and serve the copies (not 14 days from the time you received the order). You will need to contact the court to request a hearing date. If you do not file an objection within 14 days, you will lose your chance to object and the ex parte order will stay in place. 

At the objection hearing, you will have a chance to explain why you believe the order should not be in place. If you have low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.