In domestic violence cases, ex parte orders are used to grant immediate relief on an emergency basis, prior to a formal hearing. In cases involving family violence, these orders can be used either to order an abuser to refrain from certain acts, or to compel actions designed to assist the victim or to stop the cycle of abuse.
Obtaining an Ex Parte Family Violence Order
Generally, a petition must be filed, both parties must be notified, and a hearing date must be set before any orders are issued. The Georgia Domestic Violence Benchbook advises that the term ‘ex parte’ means to benefit one side, and judges have the discretion to use these types of orders in cases where there are signs of domestic violence. The process generally involves the following:
- The judge will review evidence or testimony in the case, including talking to the person alleging the abuse;
- If there is probable cause of family violence as defined by Section 19-13-1 of the Georgia Code , the court may grant whatever temporary relief it deems appropriate.
Relief Granted Through an Ex Parte Family Violence Order
The following are types of relief often granted through an ex parte family violence order:
- Protection for the victim and their children;
- Provisions for temporary custody;
- Possession of the residence or belongings;
- Restrictions on the alleged abuser from owning a firearm
It is important to realize that even if your ex parte order is denied, you may be entitled to relief through a temporary protective order.
Many Georgia counties offer victim assistance in the ex parte phase of a Family Violence Protective Order by helping them prepare forms and testimony.
The Ex Parte phase will typically last seven to fourteen days, after which a hearing will be held to determine if there is a need for a twelve-month protective order.