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Ex Parte Divorce: When Separating Becomes an Emergency

It’s all too common for people to hesitate to get a divorce because they’re scared of how their partner will react. That’s where ex parte orders and divorces can come into play. Whether your partner is abusive, prone to anger, or simply not likely to cooperate with the divorce, getting ex parte orders can dramatically simplify the process. Here’s what these orders are and how they work.

The Difference Between Ex Parte Divorces and Orders

An ex parte divorce is a type of separation granted when only one of the two partners participates in the divorce process. They are also given when only one partner lives in the relevant court jurisdiction. They are related to but not the same as ex parte orders. Both types of ex parte processes may be valuable if you’re trying to separate from an uncooperative or dangerous partner. 

Just like a marriage, divorce generally requires both parties to attend and take part in the proceedings. However, there are several reasons why this may not be possible. Suppose your partner is trying to prevent your divorce or otherwise being uncooperative. In that case, an ex parte divorce can occur as an emergency measure, so you are no longer legally connected to them.

Sometimes, however, your partner is not just uncooperative – they’re actively dangerous. If you’re suffering from any kind of abuse, including spousal abuse, child abuse, or financial abuse, you may be in an emergency situation.

In normal circumstances, the California legal system makes it a top priority for all parties to know about legal proceedings that directly involve them. If someone is involved in a court case without their knowledge, they lose the ability to get legal representation and make their case. Upholding the right to fair legal proceedings is one of the central tenets of the entire legal system.

There’s one exception to this right. If the party poses a serious danger to someone else, then the person they may harm could be eligible for an ex parte order as a form of protection. For example, leaving an abusive partner is often considered one of the most dangerous times in the entire relationship.

Getting an emergency order to remove the abuser from a shared home or to protect shared assets can help protect the victim from suffering any more harm. These emergency orders take precedence over other cases and go into effect immediately, so they can begin protecting you in days instead of weeks or months.

An ex parte order isn’t the same as a divorce, but it’s often the first step. Many abuse victims will get an emergency order to protect themselves from their partners temporarily. Then they will get a permanent restraining order and a divorce in absentia to avoid having to see their abuser.

Why File for an Ex Parte Order or Separation?

Any type of ex parte action is only intended for use in extreme circumstances. Merely wanting to avoid your partner is not enough grounds for removing their right to know about and participate in the proceedings. Instead, there need to be emergency circumstances.

Ex parte orders are only filed in serious emergencies. If you’re concerned leaving your partner may leave you destitute or that they may cause you serious personal injury when they find out, then you may have ground for these emergency orders.

The grounds for an ex parte divorce are a little less strict. Your partner doesn’t need to put you at risk of harm. Instead, you can get this type of separation if they simply cannot attend or refuse to cooperate with the proceedings.

If your partner lives in another state, for example, your divorce will be an ex parte divorce unless they choose to arrive in person. Meanwhile, if your spouse does not want to get a divorce and refuses to attend hearings, these proceedings can keep the process from taking years to resolve.

What Do You Need for Ex Parte Proceedings?

To prove that you actually need to get emergency orders, you’ll need to prove that it’s an emergency. There are many documents involved in the process, but the most important is the proof of the harm that will occur if an emergency order is not put in place.

The exact type of proof can vary, but it needs to be strong. Useful types of evidence include:

  • Previous court orders on your behalf
  • Arrest records for dangerous behavior by the other party
  • Threatening text messages or phone records
  • Receipts showing significant financial irresponsibility, like gambling or embezzlement

Even with all this evidence, the emergency order is still not guaranteed. Judges are incredibly hesitant to revoke someone else’s right to due process. If you’re considering this kind of order, you should come prepared with expert legal representation.

If your partner finds out that you intend to get an emergency order, they can oppose it. This can involve showing up at the actual legal proceedings or putting together a case during the gap between the order and the subsequent legal proceedings. Either way, be prepared to support your claim, especially if you want any aspect of the order to become permanent after your divorce.

Stay Safe and Get Help

Going through a divorce is hard enough on its own. When your partner is uncooperative or even may be dangerous to you or your children, getting a separation only becomes scarier and more stressful. You have enough problems to handle; managing the legal system alone shouldn’t be one of them.

Instead, get expert legal representation. Working with the experienced team at Kaspar & Lugay LLP can help you get your divorce quickly and safely while still protecting your assets. There’s no need to live through months of danger. If you’re facing an uncooperative spouse, get help right away and take steps to get the process completed as soon as possible.