Ex Parte Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Ex Parte, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Ex Parte?

(ex par-tay, but popularly, ex party) adj. Latin meaning “for one party,” referring to motions, hearings or orders granted on the request of and for the benefit of one party only. This is an exception to the basic rule of court procedure that both parties must be present at any argument before a judge, and to the otherwise strict rule that an attorney may not notify a judge without previously notifying the opposition. Ex parte matters are usually temporary orders (like a restraining order or temporary custody) pending a formal hearing or an emergency request for a continuance. Most jurisdictions require at least a diligent attempt to contact the other party’s lawyer of the time and place of any ex parte hearing.

History and Meaning of Ex Parte

Ex parte is a legal term that has been used for centuries, dating back to English law. The term literally translates to "on behalf of one party," indicating that a case or an issue in question only includes testimony and evidence from one perspective. The idea behind ex parte was to allow a quick and efficient resolution to certain legal proceedings without causing major delays of the entire case.

In modern legal systems, ex parte is commonly used to refer to emergency orders or procedures that are granted without the presence or knowledge of opposing parties. These orders are usually temporary and remain in effect only until a formal hearing can be held where both parties can argue their case.

Examples of Ex Parte

  1. A woman files for an ex parte restraining order against her ex-boyfriend after he shows up uninvited to her house and makes threatening comments. The judge is able to review her request and grant the restraining order without notifying the ex-boyfriend.

  2. In a custody dispute between two parents, one parent files an emergency ex parte motion requesting temporary custody due to the other parent's recent erratic behavior. A judge grants the motion, allowing the one parent to have temporary custody until a formal hearing can take place.

  3. A company files an ex parte motion to obtain a temporary restraining order against a former employee who has been sharing confidential information with competitors. The judge grants the order without notifying the former employee, preventing further damage to the company.

Legal Terms Similar to Ex Parte

  1. In Camera: In camera is a legal term that refers to a private meeting or discussion held by a judge in their chambers, away from the public and parties involved in the case.

  2. Ex Post Facto: Ex post facto is a legal term that refers to laws that retroactively punish an act that was committed before the law was passed, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

  3. Habeas Corpus: Habeas corpus is a legal term that refers to a petition filed by a prisoner or detainee, challenging the legality of their detention and seeking release from custody.