In Part One, we discussed the process and grounds required for obtaining “Ex Parte” relief.Depending on the circumstances of your case, ex parte relief may be very difficult to obtain. What may seem like an emergency to you may not seem so to a grizzled family law judge who has heard stories seemingly more tragic or critical than yours.
An alternative to ex parte relief is obtaining an Order Shortening Time, which you’ll often heard referred to as an OST.
What is an Order Shortening Time?
The order you’re asking for is not necessary an order shortening the amount of time it takes to obtain a hearing and/or judgment (although that is the effect it generally has). The order is to shorten the time between which you request the relief and the time the other party has to respond.
Under the U.S. system of justice, individuals who are hauled into court have certain rights, one of those being enough time to prepare a response to the cause of action that brought them there. To the extent you are shortening the time they have to respond to your request, you are impinging on that right.
That is why in order to do so courts require that your request for such an order come with a succinct description of the “good cause” for requesting it. In other words, the court requires you to have a very good reason that it should grant your request to shorten the time the other party has to respond (and thereby the time it takes to get to court), and express that reason well.
Like ex parte’s, the procedures for requesting an OST differ from county to county. So if you live in Yolo County, Sacramento County, or Placer County, be sure to reference your local court rules for the preferred procedure.
The request should accompany your Request for Orders (which will contain the relief you are requesting on such a shortened time frame). There you must spell out how much you would like to shorten the window, and why.
How is an Order Shortening Time Different than an Ex Parte?
The differences between OSTs and ex parte’s are two-fold. First, unlike an ex parte, which requires a hearing within the next 24 hours, an OST is somewhat more flexible. You are typically in court within one or two weeks.
The biggest difference, however is in the level of scrutiny applied to your case. When you ask for ex parte relief, the judge must apply a heightened level of scrutiny. In addition, you are obliged to provide the court a full picture of the facts, even those that are unfavorable to your case.
Under an OST, however, there is no heightened scrutiny. Instead, so long as you qualify for an OST in the first place, the judge will apply the normal standard of scrutiny to your case.
Why would you need an Order Shortening Time? Some issues require immediate attention, even if they are not technically “blood on the floor” emergencies. For example, if your spouse has control of the marital assets and you learn that he plans to sell them off and spend all the money, you would justifiably want the court to give you immediate control of those assets so your spouse cannot do that. If you wait for a hearing on the normal court calendar, it may be too late to do anything about it. That is just one scenario, but there are many others.