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Ask Legalease Your Own Question
Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 16367
Experience:  13 years experience, divorce & custody issues, protective orders, child abuse issues
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Can a special master(referee) have ex parte communication. I

Customer Question

Can a special master(referee) for custody have ex parte communication. I have not and do not waive my right to ex parte communication. Our stipulation required that both parties were required to copy each other when requesting him to make a decision on custody. His lawyer has been contacting the special master. Neither the special master or the opposing attorney will disclose the context of the conversations and emails. Is this legal?
JA: OK. The Family Lawyer will need to help you with this. Have you consulted a lawyer yet?
Customer: no
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Family Lawyer should know?
Customer: The special master is an attorney
JA: I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Family Lawyer about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello there --

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Are you representing yourself or are you represented by an attorney in these matters?

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MARY

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We agreed to be represent ourselves. per our stip- "either party may send an email to Attorney XX and copy the other party"...... The Special Master may, but is not required, to conduct his own investigation independent investigation into the issue
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sorry for the typo- conduct his own independent investigation into the issue
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, the children's GAL spoke with the Special Master of Custody without disclosing the context of the conversation accept to say that she gave her opinion on the matter. The GAL has not spoken or seen our children in the last 18 months.
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello again --

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It really is difficult to tell you whether or not these ex parte communications are in and of themselves "illegal" in your situation without knowing what they are about. THe communications could be very banal and not really related to the actual issues and resolving the issues in your case OR this could be a situation where the special master is conducting his own investigation and part of that investigation makes it necessary to speak to one or both parties in confidence. If there are overall decisions regarding custody matters being made based upon exparte communications between your ex and the special master then you have the right to protest and ask why these communications must be of an exparte nature and why you cannot be included in at least the context of what is being asked or talked about in these communications.

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My suggestion is that you make it clear in writing that you are aware of the exparte communications and ask that you be told whether or not these communications have to do with the case and if so, you would like to be informed at least what the context is of these communications and whether or not there are custody decisions made or being made without keeping both sides sufficiently informed of the matters discussed. Now, you may get a response back that this is all part of the special masters right to conduct his own investigation and all of it will be discussed prior to the court date, and so that is something that you may have to accept because it is difficult for you to prove anything other than what the special master is saying to you.

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In the end, if you believe that these contacts worked against you and your position, you have proof that you did make the inquiries in writing and you can ask the judge if he or she would kindly review the context and content of the communications between all of these parties during this time period because although you were supposed to be informed of everything that was taking place and what discussions are happening, you feel that you were not kept thoroughly informed of what was happening and would appreciate it if the court could look at the communications to determine if there were times when you should have been informed of what was happening and it simply did not happen.

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Please let me know if you have further questions. If not, can you please press a positive rating above so I will be paid for my time. I am paid nothing unless you press a positive rating above. Doing so will not cost you any additional money -- it simply acts as the trigger to Just ANswer to pay me for my time helping you today. THANK YOU

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