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Going to court

Going to the court hearing:  On the day of the hearing, go to the courthouse and find the department where your hearing is going to take place. Take a note pad 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.

When you enter the department, you can check in with the judge’s clerk or with the bailiff (i.e., the person that is wearing a uniform and looks like a sheriff’s deputy).  However, usually, the judge’s clerk or bailiff will call 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.

 

Attaching Exhibits

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.

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 any of the statements in your paperwork.

If the other party filed a Response (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.

 

Preparing for Hearing

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 (i.e., all about the abuse and what protective orders you are requesting).

 

During the Hearing

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 in front of the judge.  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:

  1. On June 1st, at approximately 9:00 p.m. you slapped my face, correct?
  2. On June 2nd, you slashed all four tires on my car, correct?
  3. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Continuing or Concluding the Case

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.

If your DV-100 asks for lots of different kinds of orders (i.e., 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.

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 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” (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.

 

Restraining Order After Hearing (DV-130):

At the end of the hearing, the judge will announce his or her decision about which orders are going to be granted and which orders are going to be denied.  The judge’s decision has to be reduced to writing.  The writing will be a Judicial Council form entitled, “Restraining Order After Hearing” (DV-130).  In many counties, the judge’s clerk will prepare the DV-130 immediately after the hearing while you wait.  In these counties, the judge’s clerk will prepare the DV-130 and then hand it to the judge to sign.  The judge’s clerk may even file the DV-130 and give you and the other party filed-endorsed copies before you leave the courtroom.  In some counties, the judge’s clerk will not file the DV-130, but will instead give the DV-130 to you or the other party and instruct you or the other party to file the original DV-130 with the court clerk before you leave the courthouse.  In some counties, the judge’s clerk will not prepare the DV-130.  In these counties, at the conclusion of the hearing, the judge may instruct one party or the other to prepare the DV-130 (usually the party that won the hearing will be instructed to prepare the DV-130).

Somebody has to prepare the DV-130, get the judge to sign it, and then file the original with the court clerk.  Otherwise, there won’t be a proper record of the decisions the judge made at the hearing.  If you are the one that has to prepare the DV-130, use the “Court Forms” button on the navigation bar to go to our Court Forms Database where you will find a blank DV-130 that you can fill out.  If the judge’s decision included orders about child custody you will also need DV-140 to attach to your DV-130.  If the judge’s decision included orders about child support, you will also need FL-342.   Note, this is an “FL” form and not a “DV” form.  If the judge’s decision included orders for spousal support, you will also need FL-343.  All of these forms that you may need to attach to your DV-130 can be found in our Court Forms Database.

You want to prepare the DV-130 on the same day as the hearing because any temporary restraining orders (TROs) previously issued by the court will expire that same day.  You want the new orders that are contained in the DV-130 to be in place before the TROs expire.  After you have prepared the DV-130, make three copies and take it back to the court and ask the court clerk what steps you need to take in order to get the judge to sign your DV-130. After the judge signs your DV-130, file the original with the court clerk.  The court clerk will give you filed-endorsed copies.  The court clerk will also forward a copy to law enforcement to be included in the CLETS Database so police everywhere in the State of California will be able to confirm the existence of the orders.

 

Serving the “Restraining Order After Hearing” (DV-130) on the other party:  If the other party violates a protective order that is set forth in a DV-130, they can be arrested, charged with a crime, and fined.  Before a law enforcement officer will arrest someone for violating a DV-130 order, the officer needs to confirm that the person was aware of the terms of the order.  If the other party attended the hearing at which the judge made the orders, that person obviously heard the judge make the orders, and no other proof of service is needed.  The DV-130, in item #25, will state that both parties were at the hearing and that no other proof of service is needed.

If the other party did not attend the hearing, then the DV-130 will need to be served on that party.  If the orders in the DV-130 are the same as the orders contained in the DV-109 (Notice of Court Hearing) and the DV-110 (Temporary Restraining Order), then you can serve the DV-130 on the other party by mail.  If the orders set forth in the DV-130 are different than those set forth in the DV-110, or if a DV-110 was not issued by the court, then the DV-130 will need to be personally served on the other party.  Again, you can look at item #25 on the DV-130 for information on which method of service, if any, needs to take place.  If service of the DV-130 is by mail, use DV-250 (Proof of Service by Mail).  If the DV-130 is required to be personally served on the other party, use DV-200 (Proof of Personal Service).  After the DV-130 has been served on the other party, file the proof of service form with the court clerk.

You cannot serve the DV-130 yourself because you are a party to the action.  You can use a professional process server or have a friend that is over 18 years old serve the DV-130.  Another option is to have the sheriff or marshal personally serve the DV-130 for free.

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