How to Get an Emergency Hearing

Hi, thank you for choosing My Court Coach. My name is Jylan, and I’m going to be your instructor as we talk about emergency hearing in family court and how to set one up.

What is an Emergency for Purposes of Family Court?

What do the courts consider to be an emergency? What does a court see as requiring its immediate attention? So if you haven’t watched the California Rules of Court videos or the local rules of court videos, this is a great time to brush up on that.

California Rule of Court 5.151 states that the purpose of emergency hearings is to address matters that can not be heard on the court’s regular hearing calendar. In this type of proceeding, the timeframe in which to give notice the other party is shorter and the requirement to give notice the other party can also be waived under exceptional circumstances.

What is the Purpose of an Emergency Hearing in Family Court?

The purpose of the emergency order (or ex parte order), is to allow the court to:

  • address an immediate danger or irreparable harm to a party or to the children involved in the matter, or
  • prevent immediate loss or damage to property that’s subject to division between the parties in the case, or
  • make procedural orders, such as setting a hearing on an issue sooner than the regular upcoming hearing (which is called an order shortening time), or
  • shorten or extend the amount of time that’s required for you to provide documents to the other party regarding the hearing that you have on calendar and documents supporting that (also another order shortening time), or
  • continue or reschedule a hearing date or a trial date.

Those are the only circumstances in which the court will even consider your ex parte application.

Judge Differ on What They Consider Appropriate for Emergency Hearings

What is considered a legitimate emergency will vary from judge to judge. Sometimes when judges don’t consider the issue you’re bringing up to be a legitimate emergency, they won’t even hear you. They won’t even entertain you coming into court and presenting in front of them. If one of the above requirements are not met, they’ll just flat out deny it.

So it’s very important in order for you to not waste your time, the court’s time and also your money. It costs $60 every single time you file an emergency application. In order for you to have a chance of having the court hearing you, you need to make sure that one of these requirements are in fact met.

How to Know if You Have a True Emergency for an Emergency Hearing

This Rule of Court will help you figure out whether your matter is an emergency or not. The best way to answer this question is by asking questions such as:

  • Do you need to call child welfare services right now?
  • Do you need to call 911?
  • Did you take your child or yourself to the doctor now?
  • Is that the sort of emergency that you’re having?

If so, then you’re a perfect candidate to file for an emergency hearing. On the other hand, if you haven’t really taken any of those steps and it doesn’t rise to that level, then the court is probably not going to grant your request for an emergency order.

It really depends on how you persuade the court that action is needed now, versus three weeks from now or three months from now.

How to Schedule an Emergency Hearing in Family Court

Once you’ve decided that you do have an emergency that you need the court to address, the next question is how do you set up an emergency hearing? You must follow local rules.

If you want the court to address it the following day, that can happen. You just have to follow the correct steps.

First, make sure the following day is not a court holiday. In other words, make sure the court is open for business.

Next, follow the local rules of your county. Every County is going to have a different method to set up these emergency hearings. Very often, you’ll have to call the court and call the other party.

Must You Always Notify the Other Party of the Request for an Emergency Hearing?

There are situations where you don’t have to notify the other party of the emergency. Those situations are when doing so might result in some harm to you or your child.

The perfect example of that is an abduction, where the other party is not willing to give the child to you during your scheduled parenting time. A common example is where the other party is actually taking steps to remove the child from the state. Essentially, it’s the equivalent to an abduction. It’s not considered kidnapping, but it would be considered an abduction.

In that case, you would not want to tell the other party that you are going to court for an emergency order to have the child returned back to you.

A Common Procedure for Scheduling an Emergency Hearing

The emergency hearing rule for San Diego County, by way of example, is Rule 5.3.1. It explains how you should set up the emergency hearing.

To summarize, you need to call the court clerk and or the ex parte line. Every county has their ex parte line that you would need to call. Then, you would need to tell them your case number and why you’re going for the emergency order. The court will also want to know whether there is an objection to your request for emergency orders.

Then, you also have to notify the other party if you can. If you cannot notify them and you have a really good reason not to, such as a potential abduction, then you wouldn’t notify the other party.

Time Deadlines When Scheduling an Emergency Hearing in Family Court

If you do notify the other party of your requested emergency hearing, you have to do so before 10:00 AM the day before the anticipated hearing.

Afterward, you have to provide the documents that support your request to the court by 12:00 PM noon and to the other party by 2:00 PM. (Check your local county rules to make sure this is true for your situation.)

If you try to file your paperwork in court at 12:01 PM, depending on which courthouse you’re in, they won’t accept your paperwork. So make sure that you have all of your paperwork completed and filed on time.

Also, be sure you have the $60 check ready for the court at the time you file your ex parte paperwork, unless you have a fee waiver. If you don’t know what a fee waiver is, we can get to that in a different video.

Finally, remember that for an emergency hearing, you really have to follow the local county rules. As for what information should be included in that emergency paperwork, we’ll get to that in a different video.

We hope that you have found this helpful and thank you.