How to Obtain an Ex Parte Judgment for Custody in North Carolina

By Editorial Team

Updated July 20, 2017

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An ex parte judgment may be necessary in North Carolina to receive emergency temporary child custody. "Ex parte" describes a case in which the judge hears only one side of events and can be invoked only if a child is in harm. If the court grants temporary custody, a full hearing with both parties present will be held within 10 days. You should consult a lawyer if you want to file an ex parte or emergency order. Some courts in North Carolina have a self-help center that may be helpful as well.

Ensure that an emergency order is necessary. In order to qualify for an emergency order, the child must be exposed to substantial risk of abuse or there has to be a risk that the child may be abducted. Cases where the child may be neglected or the other parent is not very attentive are not instances where emergency custody would be granted.

Go to your Family Court Office in North Carolina. The staff there will give you the proper form for an emergency order. The form may vary by county but is generally a short form which you would use to explain why you feel your child is in danger. You also can file a protective order against your ex and include emergency child custody in the same form.

File a motion for ex parte/emergency order in writing to the family judge assigned to your child custody case through the Family Court Office. Submit the ex parte form to the clerk of the courts at your Family Court Office.

Wait for the ruling. The judge will hear emergency matters in North Carolina regardless of which session he is presiding over. If he is unavailable, a judge who is designated to hear emergency matters will step in.

Attend your hearing. If the judge grants an emergency order, he will assign a second hearing within 10 days and file it with the clerk. The clerk will inform the opposing party of the date.

Plead your case. You will be required to make a case for the emergency order remaining in effect. The opposing party will be present, so you will need to present evidence that your child is at risk.


Emergency orders can be complicated and differ based on your situation. It is best to consult an attorney about your case.