Ask for an emergency (ex parte) order

If you need a judge to make an order as soon as possible due to an emergency, you can file a request for a temporary emergency order. 

Get free help from your court

You must meet many requirements to get an emergency order. Your court's Self-Help Center can help.


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To protect you or your children, 

you can also ask for a domestic violence restraining order.

How temporary emergency orders work

You must have a family law case or start one 

If you need an emergency order, you can ask a judge for one in your family law case. For example, in a divorce, domestic violence, or a parentage case. If you don’t already have a case open, you will need to start a case. You will file your request for the emergency order using that case number.

There must be an emergency

An emergency means there's immediate danger of:

  • Irreparable harm to someone in the case (usually you or your child)
  • Loss or damage to property

For example, it's an emergency if you find out your child's other parent plans to move your child out of the country next week without a court order or your agreement. You need a judge to make an order within a few days before the parent takes the child.

Immediate harm to a child includes domestic violence or sexual abuse of the child if the judge finds that these acts are either recent or are part of a pattern of ongoing abuse.

The order is temporary but can be extended

To ask for a temporary emergency order, you turn in a set of forms. In some cases, the judge can decide whether to grant the emergency order the same day you turn in your forms, or by the next business day.

When the judge decides whether to grant the temporary emergency order, you will also get a court date (a hearing). At the hearing, the judge will decide if the order should last longer or needs to be changed.

How to ask for an emergency order

  • Contact your court or Self-Help Center to get local rules

    These instructions give you the general steps to ask for an emergency order. Many courts have additional steps or rules you must follow.

    Contact your court's Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center to find out if they have any additional instructions. They may also be posted on their court website. For example, you will want to find out

    • If they have any "local forms" you need to fill out
    • What they require for notice
    • How you get the judge's decision (if you leave your request with a clerk to give to a judge or if you need to see the judge, called an ex parte hearing)

    The instructions below are general. Follow any additional instructions from your local court.

  • Fill out forms

    Request for Order (form FL-300)

    Check the box on Page 1 that says "Temporary Emergency Orders".

    • If the orders are about child custody, check the "I request emergency orders" box in item 2 on Page 2.  
    • If the orders are property, check the "I request emergency orders" box in item 5 on Page 3.

    Use item 10 on page 4, “Facts to Support,” to describe the emergency. If you need more space, check the box that says, “Attachment 10.” You can use Attachment to Judicial Council Form (form MC-025).

    In your "Facts to Support", you must include facts, not just opinions. For example, what you saw, heard, or know personally. Use these facts to support:

    • Why this needs to be decided at an emergency hearing (so quickly)
    • What irreparable harm or immediate danger exists

    If you've asked for the same order before, you must include that and whether the order was granted. If the emergency order will change your current situation (status quo), you must explain what the current situation is and how this order would change that.

    If you are asking to change custody or parent time, include the dates of any incidents of harm or risk to your child.

    If you already have a custody or visitation order, explain how this would change that order or your current arrangement. Attach a copy of the order, if you have one. If you do not have a custody or visitation order, explain where your child lives now and with whom, and how this emergency order would change things.

    File a new or updated Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (form FL-105). If you have not filed one before, you must file one. If you have and anything in it has changed, file an updated one.

    If you are asking for something related to finances (like spousal or child support or to pay a bill), you must also fill out an Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150).

    Temporary Emergency Order (form FL-305)

    Fill out this form with what emergency orders you want the judge to make and attach it to the FL-300.


    The petitioner is the person who started the family law case initially. The respondent is the other parent. For example, if you are filing this Request for Order but the other parent was the one who started the case at the very beginning, you are the respondent. 

    You can find the list of requirements in California Rule of Court 5.151.

  • Attach documents to support your request

    illustration of gathering documentation

    Sometimes it's important to have documents that support your case. If you have any, you can attach them to your request. The judge will then be able to review them when they make a decision.

    • Documents that support your case might include things like a letter from a counselor or doctor, or a police report
    • Black out any private information like a Social Security number or account numbers
    • If there is a witness (someone who saw or personally knows something), you can ask them to write and sign a statement that says what they know. Learn more about witness statements.

    If you don't have these ready now, you can submit them later. But the judge won't be able to review them until later.

  • Give the other person notice and serve request

    For this step, you need to follow California Rule of Court 5.165. Check with your local court if they have additional requirements in their local rules and forms for you to use.

    You or another adult have to both:

    • Let the other side in your case (or their attorney, if they have one) know that you plan to ask for temporary emergency orders (called giving notice). This can be done different ways. For example, in person, by phone, or in some cases by email.
    • Have a copy of what you plan to file handed or sent to them or their attorney (called service) 

    In exceptional cases, the judge can make a decision on the temporary emergency order without you letting the other side about the request (giving notice). For example, if letting the other side know about your request might cause you immediate harm. But, you still must have the other side served with what you file.

    You can often use Declaration Regarding Notice and Service of Request for Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Order (form FL-303) to prove you met the requirements. Your court may have a different form you can use.

  • Make copies of your forms

    After you’ve filled out, signed, and dated your Request for Order and any attachments, make 2 copies of the forms and any attachments.  

  • Submit your forms

    For this step, you need to follow the instructions from your local court. Your court may let you leave the forms with the court clerk for a judge to review. In other courts, they may want you to go to court so a judge can decide when you are there.

    To submit your forms with the court:

    • Give the original and the 2 copies to the court clerk  

    • Pay a $60 fee (unless you have a fee waiver)

    There may be other fees, like if you're changing a custody order.

    If these are the first papers you’ve filed in the case, there may be a $435-$450 “first paper” filing fee.  If you can't afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver

    Ask the clerk when you can come back to get the judge's decision. It may be that day or the next day the court is open.

    Some courts allow you to submit papers online (called e-filing). You can find out if your court has online filing by visiting your court’s website.  

  • Pick up the forms from the clerk

    • Find out if the judge granted the order

      Read Page 1 of your Request for Order and Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Orders to see what the judge ordered. If the judge made any emergency orders, they last until your court hearing.

    • Find out how and when you need to let the other side know

      Read items 4 and 7 on the Request for Order to find out how and when you need to have the papers served. Generally, you will need to have the papers personally served. This means another adult, not you, hands a copy of the orders to the other person.

    Have any emergency orders served as soon as possible. 




Emergency orders

What's next?

Once you’ve got the forms back, you must have someone serve them on the other side.

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