What is an “ex parte” application? Can anything be applied for ex parte?

"Ex parte” is a Latin legal term meaning “by one party.” It is used to describe situations where someone applies for something in court that involves another party, but does not tell the other party about the application in advance. In other words, no documents are served on the other party to tell them about the application. Sometimes, this is called an application “without notice.”

There are very limited situations where an ex parte application may be allowed. Some examples of where this may happen in family law are:  

  • Applications that deal with a service issue. For example, if you cannot locate the other party, or you need to serve them outside the jurisdiction,
  • If your matter is an emergency and serving the other party is impossible.
  • If serving the other party may lead to the harm you want to prevent through a court order. For example, if the other party is about to sell off property that you have an interest in.
  • If your safety (or your children’s safety) may be at risk if the other party knows that you intend to make an application.


If you make an ex parte application when it is not necessary, there may be penalties. You may want to talk to a lawyer about whether your application can be made ex parte.