Step 5: The hearing
Whether a judge grants you a temporary order or not, you may be given a court date for a hearing on your petition within ten business days (assuming that your petition is not dismissed). The hearing will be in front of a judge, who will decide whether or not to give you a final relief from abuse order.1
It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date.
If the abuser was served and does not attend the hearing, the court may issue a “default judgment” against him/her and you may receive a final relief from abuse order in his/her absence. The judge also may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court. If this happens, be sure to ask the judge to extend your temporary order if you have one.
At the hearing, you will have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove the abuse and harassment you have experienced. The abuser will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing to defend himself/herself. You may want to get a lawyer to represent you at that hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one. Go to our VT Finding a Lawyer page for a listing of free and paid lawyers. If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, you can visit our At the Hearing section for ways that you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.