Q: How to respond to (petioners) RFO orders Ex- Parte Notice late notice via email sent by his attorney to me (respondent).
this is a family custody visitation/ sole and physical custody battle on going for 3 years. Minors counsel also involved.
The short answer is: SHOW UP IN COURT at the time and place given to you in the notice. If the time and place are set for tomorrow, go to that courtroom tomorrow at the time given in the notice. There is nothing else you need to do to respond. When you get to the hearing the attorney on the other side needs to give you a copy of his papers which you will read on the spot. The judge will be reading the papers for the first time just as you are. "Ex-parte" notice means the attorney on the other side THINKS there is an emergency. The first thing the judge will decide is: "Is this an emergency or it is it not an emergency?" Many times the judge decides that there is no emergency. In those cases where the judge DOES believe in fact that there IS an emergency, then the judge will decide to order what is being asked or not order it, or order something in between. You don't have to file papers back against an ex parte. There is no procedural requirement or legal requirement to do so. You can if you want, but there is no requirement. You can also bring documents that you think might be helpful if you want, but this is optional. You need to show up because after you read the papers most judges will turn to you and allow you to respond verbally in court as to whether you agree with the order requested or not.
After the judge makes an order yes or no, there is usually also a hearing date on the RFO set, usually 3-4 weeks later. If a hearing date is set on the RFO you WILL have the opportunity to respond to that and you should. If you don't know how to do that, consider going to the Self-Help Center.
All 58 counties in California have some type of Self-Help Center. The people at the Self-Help Center help you fill out family law forms for free. They can’t do everything in family law, but they will help you with all the basics. The downside is that they don’t have a lot of time to spend with you, and often there is a line to get in to see them. The upside is that it is free. So if you have more time than money, go to the Self-Help Center for divorce, custody, visitation, paternity and domestic violence paperwork. But if you want a more thorough in-depth help, it is recommended that you see a family law attorney. Many family law attorneys have a free first interview. Some charge only $50. Some $75 or $100. It only takes a phone call to their office to find out the fee for the first interview. There is no obligation to hire an attorney to do anything after the first interview. That’s up to you. Also there is no requirement that you talk to an attorney in your area. Any family law attorney licensed in California can help you no matter where you live as long as it is in the state or your case is filed in California. The interview would be done by phone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime or some other type online method. Even if the attorney is in your area, many attorneys are only talking to people this way due to the Covid pandemic, so you couldn’t have an interview in their office anyway. Also attorneys are going to give you a more-in-depth analysis of your situation than you will get at the Self-Help Center. So call an attorney and set up an appointment.
When you ask a question online, like here, the answers you get are only going to be basic information, a starting point. Attorneys are trained to talk to you to find out all the important details of your story. Getting all the details is very important because it will make a big difference in the legal information given to you. It is strongly recommended that even if you get a response here on Justia, that you also talk to an attorney.
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