What is Emergency Ex Parte Custody?

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

About Emergency Ex Parte Custody

Ordinarily, Courts issue orders only after hearing evidence at a trial. At a trial, Courts hear from both sides of a dispute. In some emergency cases, one side needs a court order immediately.

In certain cases, Courts will issue temporary child custody orders without a hearing. These orders are "ex parte," which is Latin for related to one side's interests only. When the Court issues ex parte orders, it schedules a hearing on a later date. Ex parte orders are temporary and typically expire on the hearing date.

Sources of Ex Parte Custody Orders

  • Several laws allow for temporary emergency custody orders. Some laws are specific and others are more general. The circumstances determine the type of order a person seeks, and the Court grants.

Grounds for Ex Parte Custody Under La. Code of Civil Procedure Article 3945

  • Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 3945 governs divorce cases and other cases where the law allows for temporary child custody orders.  Under article 3945, to get an ex parte custody order, there must be a showing that a child will suffer certain harm, unless the Court issues an ex parte temporary custody order to protect the child.
  • The harm must be both immediate and irreparable.  Other than being immediate and irreparable, the type of harm is not defined by law. This means unique circumstances may qualify.
  • In this context, immediate means in a time before the Court could schedule a hearing. Courts attempt to schedule hearings within 30 days from filing in all family law cases. For emergency hearings, Courts try to schedule within 15 days from filing.
  • Irreparable means the harm is not repairable or cannot be fixed later. Trauma is one example of a harm that may be irreparable. Missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime event might also constitute irreparable harm.
  • Courts decide each case on their specific facts and circumstances. There are no definite situations that will or will not justify a temporary ex parte custody order. They all depend on the unique situation.

Domestic Abuse Assistance, Children's Code, & Post-Separation Family Violence Relief

Temporary ex parte custody may be granted in cases under these specific laws:

If you need to file a request with a Court for temporary ex parte child custody under any of the laws listed above, you can use the forms found here.

Last Review and Update: Nov 02, 2021
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