Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today we are going to talk about attending the hearing on your domestic violence application.
Christina: I’ve applied for a domestic violence restraining order and served the other party with my paperwork. What do I do on the day of the hearing?
Ed: On the day of the hearing, go to the courthouse and find the department where your hearing is going to take place. Take a notepad and pen with you. It is best to arrive early. For many courthouses, parking can be a serious problem so give yourself plenty of time. Make certain you have a filed-endorsed copy of your “Proof of Personal Service” (DV-200) with you. Do not take minor children to the hearing. If you want to take a support person with you to the hearing, that’s fine, but it is unlikely the support person will be allowed to speak with the judge unless the support person was a witness to the abuse and the judge wants to hear from the witness.
Christina: What do I do after I arrive at the court and find the court department where my hearing is scheduled to take place?
Ed: When you enter the department, you can check in with the judge’s clerk or with the bailiff. The bailiff is the person that is wearing a uniform and looks like a sheriff’s deputy. However, usually, the judge’s clerk or bailiff will call the roll before the judge comes out. Don’t sit next to the other party. Your paperwork is essentially telling the judge you are afraid of the other party and need protective orders. Sitting next to the other party in the courtroom is not exactly consistent with the idea that you need the court to protect you from the other party. You do not need to talk to the other party. If the other party hassles you or threatens you before the judge calls your case, tell the bailiff.
Christina: If I have photographs or documents that I want to show the judge during the hearing, do I have to show the other party these things before the hearing starts?
Ed: If you have any photographs, emails, police reports, witness statements, pay stubs, or any other documents that you want to show the judge during the hearing, and if those documents were not attached as exhibits to the papers you previously filed with the court, then you will need to give copies of the documents to the other party before the hearing begins so the other party has an opportunity to review the documents before the hearing starts. If you want to show the judge any kind of documents, bring 3 copies with you to court. One copy is for the other party, one copy is for you, and one is for the judge.
Christina: What do I do when the judge calls my case?
Ed: When the judge calls your case, walk up to the front and sit at the table. You and the other party will be asked to take an oath or affirmation where you promise to tell the truth. Then, there will be a back-and-forth discussion involving you, the judge, and the other party. The judge will listen to each of you. The judge will ask each of you questions. The judge will try to determine who is telling the truth. Hopefully, the judge will have read all of the paperwork you previously filed with the court and he or she will be familiar with the claims being made by each party. If the judge has read your paperwork, you won’t need to repeat the statements you wrote down in your paperwork.
If the other party filed a Response, the DV-120, and served you with a copy, you will probably want to tell the judge your response to whatever false or misleading statements the other party included in their DV-120.
Christina: How can I prepare for the hearing?
Ed: It is a good idea, before the hearing, to sit down and draft a statement about what you want to say to the judge during the hearing. At least draft an outline of what you want to say. A day or two before the hearing, practice what you are going to say during the hearing. The better prepared you are, the less nervous you will be. If you get really nervous at the hearing, you can simply read your prepared statement to the judge. You want to tell the judge additional information that was not included in your previous paperwork. The judge will primarily want to know about the acts of abuse and what kinds of orders you are requesting. Sometimes, judges don’t read the paperwork before the hearing. So, you should be prepared to tell the judge everything that is in your paperwork. Be prepared to tell the judge all about the abuse and which protective orders you are requesting.
Christina: Will I have an opportunity to ask the other party questions?
Ed: At some point during the hearing, the judge will likely give you an opportunity to ask the other party questions. This is not the time for you to argue with the other party. It is a time for you to ask questions. Before the hearing, make a list of any questions you want to ask the other party. Your questions are not going to be true questions but will be more like statements that are put in the form of a question. For example:
- On June 1st, at approximately 9:00 p.m. you slapped my face, correct?
- On June 2nd, you slashed all four tires on my car, correct?
- On June 15th, you sent me this email in which you threatened to kill our dog unless I dropped this court proceeding, correct?
You use questions to make statements and, hopefully, get the other party to make admissions.
Christina: Will the other party be allowed to ask me questions during the hearing?
Ed: Yes. The other party or his or her attorney will be given an opportunity to ask you questions. Listen to each question. Take a moment to think about your answer and then answer the question.
Christina: Any other advice about what to do or not do during the hearing?
Ed: Don’t interrupt anyone during the hearing, particularly the judge. Even if the other party starts lying, don’t interrupt, but wait for your turn to tell the judge the truth.
Christina: Can I bring witnesses to the hearing?
Ed: If a third party observed any of the acts of abuse, you may want to bring the third party to the hearing to testify as a witness. If so, when your case is called, let the judge know that a witness has come to the hearing and can testify about acts of abuse that the witness observed. If the judge permits the witness to testify, after the witness takes the oath, ask the witness to describe what the witness saw and heard at the time the abuse took place.
Christina: How long will the hearing last?
Ed: You can’t predict how long your hearing will last. It depends on how many cases are set to be heard at the same time as your case. The judge may have only ten or fifteen minutes to deal with your case. The judge may allow the hearing on your case to go on for well over an hour. There will be other cases set at the same time as your case. You may have to wait for an hour or two, possibly longer, before your case is called.
Christina: Is it possible my case will get continued when I show up for the hearing?
Ed: Your case may get continued. If you were unable to serve the other party, your case will get continued. If the other party shows up and asks for a continuance because they need time to hire an attorney, your case may get continued. If your case will require a long hearing and the judge does not have enough time, your case will get continued.
Christina: Will the judge decide all of the issues raised in my application for orders during the hearing?
Ed: If your DV-100 asks for lots of different kinds of orders such as restraining orders; child custody orders; support orders; etc., the judge may decide to deal only with the restraining orders at the initial hearing and then set another hearing to deal with custody or support issues.
Christina: What happens at the end of the hearing?
Ed: At the conclusion of the hearing, after the judge has listened to both sides, the judge will decide what kinds of orders will be issued. All of your requests may be granted. All may be denied. The judge may grant some orders and deny other orders. If the judge grants any orders, the judge will also decide how long those orders will last. The orders may last up to five years. When the judge starts making his or her decisions at the end of the hearing, try as best you can to write down all of the judge’s decisions because you may have to prepare the “Restraining Order After Hearing”, which is DV-130. It will be very difficult to prepare the DV-130 if you did not take notes at the end of the hearing about the judge’s decisions.
Christina: In the next video, we will talk about how to draft the DV-130 “Restraining Order After Hearing” form.